"Asor" by Rita Letendre. Serigraph with diagonal lines in yellows, greens, browns and blues

The Myth of Consensus

Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery

Featuring works from the Permanent Collection and a commissioned response by Aislinn Thomas. Curated by Crystal Mowry.

On February 15, 1965 Canada debuted its new national flag – an act bound up with aspiration and declarations of so-called sovereignty. Ubiquitous and deceptively simple, the national flag is something to which we now give little thought. By looking closer at its form, we might be surprised to find similarities with a basic understanding of what a painting can be: a piece of fabric with brightly coloured lines or simplified shapes that hold symbolic meaning for a group of people.

The decade following Canada’s adoption of the maple leaf flag as a symbol of national unity would reveal a country fraying at its seams. The bloom of counter-cultures and constitutional separatism mobilized a rebellious new generation of citizens. Against this cultural backdrop, artists sought out innovative ways to give voice to an era of rapid societal change, turning away from traditional modes of representation and towards abstraction.

The Myth of Consensus convenes rarely-seen abstract works from the Permanent Collection dating from the 1960s and 1970s. Bombastic, moody, and rich in hue, these works provide a snapshot of a different nation taking shape in the studios of artists across the country.

On the occasion of this exhibition, KWAG has commissioned Kitchener-based artist Aislinn Thomas to create a contemporary response to selected works on view. Working closely with intergenerational volunteers from the public and adopting an experimental approach to visual description, Thomas will develop her project while the exhibition is on view and share the results during the latter half of its run.

More information

Image: Rita Letendre (Canadian, b. 1929), Asor, 1979. Edition 57 or 100. Serigraph, 46 x 61.2 cm. © Rita Letendre. Photo: KWAG.