Apples, snowballs, shoes—the acclaimed work of Gathie Falk (b.1928) asks us to consider the haunting beauty of everyday objects. Falk is one of Canada’s most celebrated contemporary artists, a winner of the 2013 Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts, and also the recipient of the Order of Canada, the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, the Order of British Columbia, and the Governor General’s Award in Visual Arts. In her paintings and sculptures, Falk combines a rich understanding of minimalism and the conceptualist readymade with a playful sensitivity reminiscent of poetry. Vancouver Art Gallery senior curator Bruce Grenville has described Falk’s work as having “a deeply personal presence that is grounded in an intense scrutiny of her daily environment.”
“Gathie Falk has an unapologetically personal vision. Whether it is consciously evoked or not, her work is infused with many of the strategies used in feminist art to challenge patriarchal assumptions about what deserves to be included in the realm of high art.”
Born to Mennonite parents from Russia in Alexander, Manitoba, Falk and her family moved across the prairies after the death of her father, taking up refuge in different Mennonite communities. Her memories of these humble beginnings—tending gardens, picking fruit, gathering eggs, her mother sewing and making clothes—became the themes she has explored in her work ever since. In Gathie Falk: Life & Work, Michelle Jacques details the captivating life of this singular artist. Encouraged by the ceramicist Glenn Lewis and painter Lawren P. Harris, Falk began to exhibit her art in 1960 and five years later left a stable teaching career to follow her dream. For five subsequent decades, Falk has created some of the most well-known art in Canada and abroad, using sculpture, performance, painting, and drawing. From pyramids of fruit to papier-mâché canoes, Falk’s work is boundless.
Michelle Jacques is a curator, teacher, and art historian. She is currently the Head of Exhibitions and Collections and chief curator at the Remai Modern. She has co-curated two major retrospectives of the work of the Canadian artists Anna Banana and Jock Macdonald. Jacques has also held various roles in the Contemporary and Canadian departments of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; was the director of programming at the Centre for Art Tapes in Halifax; and has taught courses in writing, art history, and curatorial studies at NSCAD University, University of Toronto Mississauga, and OCAD University.