François Xavier Saint-Pierre: The Spiders and the Bees


François Xavier Saint-Pierre: The Spiders and the Bees

Exhibition: December 3, 2021–January 23, 2022
Guest Curator: David Jager
Gallery Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 12–5 PM
Admission: FREE
Opening Weekend: December 4 & 5, 12–5 PM

The Koffler Gallery presents The Spiders and the Bees, a survey exhibition by French-Canadian artist François Xavier Saint-Pierre, including his most recent body of work following a residency at the Villa Medici in Rome. The exhibition is guest curated by David Jager.

Delving into early print culture, practical treatises on painting and pre-photographic ways of rendering images, Venice based artist François Xavier Saint-Pierre rigorously examines and deconstructs how we see and how we look at painting.

By sifting through the detritus of Antique, Renaissance and Baroque imagery – from architectural fragments to engravings and bookplates – Saint-Pierre gives us a startlingly contemporary take on the past that blends Modernist painting idioms with Classical and Romantic tropes. Often captivated by a single image, he then subjects it to a serial investigation that deliberately blurs the edges of its legibility. This process of inquiry through repetition allows Saint-Pierre to question how images become embedded in cultural memory, and how notions of ‘progress’ and views of the past are determined.

Based on Jonathan Swift’s 18th century allegory of a battle between the ancients of Antiquity (the bees) and the moderns of the Enlightenment (the spiders), this survey exhibition gives us an evocative look at how we negotiate between past modes of knowledge and the present moment.

François Xavier Saint-Pierre is a Canadian painter who received his BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where he studied under Guido Molinari and Yves Gaucher and his MFA from the University of Waterloo. He was a finalist in the 2006 RBC Canadian Painting Competition and has participated in international residencies in the UK, in Italy, where he was an artist in residence at the French Academy in Rome, and in the middle of the Baltic Sea on a remote island with more sheep than people. He has exhibited across Canada and internationally.

David Jager is a writer and musician living in Muskoka. He was art reviewer for NOW magazine for over ten years, and did several cover features and reviews on contemporary artists for Canadian Art. He is currently a freelance curator, art writer, gallery owner and academic. He also writes rock musicals.


The Koffler Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of the Toronto Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, visitors are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and follow health and safety protocols during their visit. The Koffler Gallery is located in Artscape Youngplace on Shaw Street, just north of Queen Street West, Toronto. Admission is free. Public gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 12–5 PM. Please see our visitor guidelines here.

The Koffler Centre of the Arts is a cultural platform that explores critical ideas and concerns of our time through a year-round program of exhibitions, publications, performances, literary events, digital initiatives and arts education programs. We examine complex issues through transformative art experiences that stimulate intercultural dialogue and promote social change. Through our in-gallery and off-site programs, the Koffler engages thousands of visitors each year. From school children and teens, to newcomers and seniors, we provide vital opportunities for self-expression and community connection, including to those in greatest need.

As a Jewish organization, we value – and aim to foster – social justice and equality while nurturing a passion for learning and understanding. We position Jewish identity in conversation with diverse perspectives and global voices to examine complex issues in a respectful, constructive way. These principles support the Koffler’s engagement with the best contemporary creative minds in producing and presenting art that provides common ground for experiences shaping our shared cultural life and defining our social values.

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Image: François Xavier Saint-Pierre, The Other Banner Held Aloft, oil on panel, 18 x 25 cm, 2017.


Artscape Youngplace | 180 Shaw Street, Suite 104-105 | Toronto, ON M6J 2W5
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Tony Hewer, Director of Marketing, Communications & Archives
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The Koffler Gallery and its administrative offices are located at Artscape Youngplace, in Toronto’s vibrant West Queen West art and design district. The Koffler Centre of the Arts acknowledges the support of the Koffler Family Foundation, Cultural Season Sponsor CIBC Wood Gundy, the Ontario Arts Council through the Community and Multidisciplinary Arts Organizations Program, Canada Council for the Arts, TD Bank Group through the TD Ready Commitment, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, our donors and patrons. The Koffler Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of the Toronto Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.