After confirming Wednesday morning that the National Gallery of Canada is an independent institution, Mr. Pablo Rodriguezme Leon expressed his “deep concern” about the ongoing events at the museum, which has begun a process of decolonization of its management and its programming and has begun to lay off key administrators.
“I asked him for a quick response on the solutions the board of directors intends to present,” the minister said, adding that he was concerned about the climate at NGC and “the board needs to explain what is going on”.
In recent days, players in the Canadian art world, such as former NGC director Mark Mayer, curators and art historians such as collector Pierre Lasonde or Diana Nemiroff, have expressed their astonishment at the way the NGC is currently run. Asking for an explanation.
Despite several requests from the media, the chair of the board of directors, Françoise Lyon, a Montreal businessman who is president and senior partner of the private equity firm DGC Capital, on Nov. 17 declined any interview to explain why the museum. Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Kitty Scott, Curator of Indigenous Art, Greg Hill, Director of Curatorial and Technical Research, Stephen Gritt, and Senior Communications Manager, Denise Seale, were fired.
The museum refuses to provide explanations for these layoffs, insisting on a policy of secrecy and a strategic plan aimed at “decolonizing” the museum institution. The situation at NGC was the subject of a heated debate in Parliament on Wednesday. Drummond’s constituent, Martin Chamboux, noted that the NGC at one point hesitated to organize an exhibition dedicated to Riobelle on the occasion of the centenary of his birth, which was indeed to be held the following October.
According to the National Gallery of Canada Riobel is an ‘old white male artist’ and according to Pres, its Director General has done everything, Mr. The President, to prevent an exhibition in his honor, initiated Deputy Champoux. Can the Minister tell us when his Government decided to exclude fine arts from the profession of a fine art museum? »
Responding to that, Minister Rodriguez said his colleague is “in the field”. “We are going to celebrate Riobelle, Mr. President, Riobelle is one of the giants of the giants, one of the greatest artists among us. The government has been and will be to celebrate this great artist Riobel. »
Deputy Chamboux continued with a second intervention: “A quick phone call from the Minister of Heritage at the museum. [des beaux-arts du Canada] This drift can be stopped because it does nothing to the National Gallery of Canada’s file, he said. He agrees to it, or the management of the Museum of Fine Arts obeys the Minister’s orders. Because what happens in the museum, Mr. President, they are actually turning it into a tool of ideological propaganda rather than a place to preserve and promote the fine arts. […] When will the minister stop working as a publicity minister and start working as a heritage minister? »
Responding to this, Pablo Rodríguez said the comment hurt him and assured the constituency MP that the Riobel fair would take place. Joined by PresCollector, patron and businessman Pierre Lassonde and the NGC’s former executive director, Sacha Sousa, who left the organization last June, did everything to oppose the tribute to Riobelle in Ottawa.
“She tried to kill the fair several times,” said Mr. Lassonde says. Thanks to the intervention and persuasion of the Riobel Foundation, he finally agreed to organize it, but reluctantly. It would be unthinkable not to have an exhibition of a very important Canadian painter on the international stage! But he wanted to reduce the budget, organize the exhibition in a small room, and wanted to reduce the number of works to be exhibited. It was amazing. It took him a year and a half to hire a curator…” Art historian Sylvie Lacerte will sign the Riobell exhibition in Ottawa.
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