Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Art gallery puts focus on modern art


02 May 2012 03:08AM

Under the gaze of its founder, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery expanded to include more modern art this spring. Of the four exhibitions that opened last week, two are photos, one is contemporary and the last, a portrait collection of Lord Beaverbrook himself.

Remember the Rage: Portraits of Lord Beaverbrook consists of 13 paintings of well-known New Brunswick philanthropist Sir Max Aitken, including three the gallery commissioned for its 50th anniversary in 2009.

Lord Beaverbrook often called himself the “Rage” in reference to a rogue wave crashing against the rocks of New Brunswick’s shore.

The gallery’s curator, Terry Graff, included excerpts of text and items associated with Beaverbrook to provide context for the exhibition.

“We’re painting a picture of him,” Graff said.

The collection “gives us a little more insight into who he was and his character. As time goes on, the portraits and the stories are what remain and certainly, the legacy.”

The legacy is what Graff wants to maintain.

At its opening in 1959, Lord Beaverbrook said, “The gallery will not satisfy my aim if it is thought of as the last home of a collection of pictures and works of art. It should rather be a place at which new talents are kindled and guided. A beginning and not an end.”

Graff said the gallery has satisfied that request by “providing opportunities for young people and serving as a platform for kindling new talents.”

Among these emerging new talents is Jaret Belliveau, the photographer behind the Dominion Street exhibition. It takes the viewer through a narrative of photos during his mother’s battle with cancer and the family’s struggle to deal with her death.

“It documents a very universal theme...Jaret has presented this in such a sensitive and poignant manner that you can’t help but relate to it and feel, understand and appreciate what the images are about,” Graff said.

It’s the fourth time Belliveau, a Moncton native, has showed the work. But it’s the first time he’ll put the images on display in New Brunswick.

“Photography often gets a short shrift and certainly that was a little bit of the case at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in that the photography collection hasn’t really been developed in any big or strong way,” Graff said,

But Graff has worked to change that.

“It’s amazing for the Beaverbrook to take on the show and to really open it up to the audience,” said Belliveau. The gallery “is really trying to make it a mandate to open up their contemporary photo collection.”

Also on display is the Collecting Photography, Collecting the World exhibition, which includes a selection of photos from the gallery’s permanent collection.

“It shows a real variety of contemporary photography work that many young artists are making now. It is a very current exhibition,” Graff said.

Finally, the Hot Pop Soup: Neo-Pop Trends in Contemporary New Brunswick Art exhibition includes an Andy Warhol original called, “Liz,’ giving patrons a special glimpse of Elizabeth Taylor.

But the exhibit focuses on New Brunswick artists who use recycled figures from the 1950s and 60s. It features a major publication that Graff said aims to create context for New Brunswick artists in what other artists are doing nationally and internationally.

“There’s a lot of talented artists and a lot of artists having shows in New Brunswick but I think it’s important to tell a bigger story and that’s our job at the Beaverbrook.”

The exhibits will run until June 10.

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