Art Gallery of Burlington Fall 2023 Exhibitions

The Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB) fall exhibition series opens Friday October 20, 6:30–8:00 pm featuring the work of Sybil Atteck, Chiedza Pasipanodya, and members of Halton Black Voices.

Sybil Atteck, Sybil Atteck Self-Portrait, 1973. Acrylic on board. 71.12 x 55.88 x 2.54 cm. Courtesy of Helen Atteck.

From October 20, 2023 – January 7, 2024, the AGB is proud to bring the life’s work of iconic Trinidadian artist Sybil Atteck (1911–1975) together for the first time in Canada. Borrowed from the largest collection of her work—amassed by her nephew Keith Atteck in Burlington and drawn from the family’s holdings in Southern Ontario—this exhibition traces the profound impact of Atteck’s legacy across familial, historical, and aesthetic lines. Featuring rarely seen works from the family’s collection, the exhibition includes paintings, drawings, and archival material from the 1930s to 1970s.

Sybil Atteck was a pioneering artist. Her disciplined struggle and gritty perseverance allowed her to become the most prominent artist and important historic figure in the Caribbean art scene. Atteck has been continually recognized, both nationally and internationally, as the “Mother of Visual Arts” of Trinidad and Tobago. She nurtured, influenced, and firmly secured the fine art capabilities of her nation pre-, during, and post-independence within her practice and as a founding member of the Trinidad and Tobago Art Society. For a lifetime of accomplishment, leadership, and eminent contribution to the advancement of fine arts in Trinidad and Tobago, Atteck received the nation’s award, the Chaconia Medal (Gold), in 1973.

In the years after her death in 1975, Atteck’s legacy and art has endured. Atteck’s artworks have continually been featured on Trinidad and Tobago’s postage stamps, at national events, and included in local and international art exhibitions. In 2022, Atteck was celebrated with her inclusion in Great Women Painters, a publication by Phaidon Press, that surveyed more than 300 painters from more than 60 countries, spanning five centuries.

An opus as prolific as Sybil’s took a special drive and tenacity. For a woman making work in the 1930s until her death in 1975, having a thriving international art career was unprecedented. As it turns out, that determination is a family trait. Keith Atteck’s journey to venerate the legacy of his aunt has been nothing less than heroic. Researching, collecting, and organizing her life’s work has been a full-time passion project for Keith. He has become an archivist and detective, unearthing a collection of unknown and undocumented work, along with critical reviews, catalogues, and photographs to piece her artistic trajectory together. The AGB has been working in concert with Keith and the Atteck family to bring their private collection of collected notes, preparatory drawings, exploratory paintings, and sketchbooks into the public sphere—transporting the works from the walls of the family’s homes to the walls of the gallery.

On Saturday October 21 at the AGB from 1 – 2:00 pm, Richard Fung interviews Christopher Cozier on Sybil’s role as a significant protagonist in Trinidad’s cultural landscape. The artists will provide personal investigations into her artistic contributions, and the ways in which her career carved pathways for future generations of artists in Trinidad and the Caribbean diaspora.

On Sunday November 12 from 1 – 3:00 pm walk the city streets of Burlington with Trinidad-born, Toronto-based photographer Stephen Attong and your camera. Stephen’s work explores the sentimentality in public spaces. From amusement parks to quiet moments with friends, hidden beneath playful colours and structures is deep contemplation of shared experiences. He enables viewers to relate to, recall or imagine their own memories in his work. Attong explores how these experiences, perspectives and ideas can co-exist through the common anchor of a still image. Stroll along the Burlington waterfront area to capture the quiet cinematic moments that happen in everyday life.

Chiedza Pasipanodya, 2023.

Dande is a memory and a fable, a translation and a portal, a place that exists nowhere – only here and somewhere.

Chiedza Pasipanodya’s Ndafunga Dande (Thoughts of Home) exhibition resides in that here and somewhere. It is a space where megalithic boulders, suspended fruits, and elements of vernacular Shona architecture open a broader conversation about place, materiality, and storytelling. Chiedza features a grouping of hand-built ceramic sculptures that were created in the AGB clay studios, along with an audio composition which investigates the ways in which alternate histor(ies) are built and transmitted. This work is part of their ongoing inquiry into notions of sustenance and permanence such as: What kinds of remembrance does clay make possible? Where and what gets to be remembered? Can repetition keep a person, place, or thing alive?

On Saturday, October 21, Chiedza Pasipanodya hosts a workshop Fruit-full, a hand-building gathering wherein participants can learn how to form, shape, and decorate their own ceramic fruits and reflect upon ideas of abundance/scarcity, wellness/unwellness, and what it might look like to have our needs met.

All these exhibitions will be opening Friday, October 20, from 6:30 – 8:00 pm along with the Halton Black Voices installation by artists Kemahee Baker, Reynold Thomas, Vivianne, and Xavier Fuller, a performance by singer-songwriter and steelpan virtuoso Luckystickz, food by D Hot Shoppe, a printmaking demonstration by artist Sonali Menezes and a natural dye demonstration using plants harvested from the AGB’s Community Garden by the Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild.

The AGB is generously supported by the City of Burlington, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Canada Council for the Arts. AGB’s learning programming has been generously supported by The Burlington Foundation and the incite Foundation for the Arts.

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