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Remai Modern to open career retrospective of late Trinidadian-Canadian artist Denyse Thomasos

For immediate release — April 14, 2023

SASKATOON, CANADA — On April 14, Remai Modern is honoured to present just beyond, an exhibition of works by Denyse Thomasos (1964-2012). The career retrospective showcases the artist’s indelible, yet frequently overlooked, mark on contemporary painting.

The exhibition brings together more than 70 works from throughout her career alongside rarely seen sketches, photographs and documentary footage that offer an intimate glimpse into her life.

One of the finest painters to emerge in the 1990s, the late Trinidadian-Canadian artist challenged the limits of abstraction, infusing personal and political content onto her canvases through the innovative use of formalist techniques.

This exhibition is organized by Remai Modern, Saskatoon and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. It is curated by Michelle Jacques, Head of Exhibitions and Collections / Chief Curator, Remai Modern; Renée van der Avoird, Associate Curator, Canadian Art, AGO; Sally Frater, Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Guelph.

“Thomasos’s talent and ambition made her one of the finest painters of her generation and in the years since her passing, the relevance of her work has only increased. Her deep commitment to narratives of the Black experience, structures of authority and the architecture of surveillance, has only made her singular talent more prescient,” say the co-curators. “In documentary footage, in her diaries and in the interviews of those who knew her, a portrait of an exceptional artist arises. We look forward to celebrating and furthering her legacy.”

Through pattern, scale and repetition, Thomasos conveyed the vastness of events such as the transatlantic slave trade without exploiting the images of those who were most affected. The exhibition highlights Thomasos’s sustained engagement with structures of confinement, slavery, prisons, vernacular architecture and urban planning. Thomasos often worked at a monumental scale, on canvasses as large as 11 by 20 feet, the same size the wall in her New York City studio.

Opening weekend at Remai Modern includes a curator tour with van der Avoird, Frater and Jacques on April 14 at 2 PM, and an opening reception later that evening at 7 PM. Admission for both events is by donation and free for members.

Denyse Thomasos: just beyond was on view at the AGO from October 5, 2022 until February 20, 2023. The exhibition will travel to the Vancouver Art Gallery in November.

About Denyse Thomasos

Born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, the acclaimed painter Denyse Thomasos was raised in Toronto and spent most of her professional career in Philadelphia and New York City. Thomasos earned a BA in Painting and Art History from the University of Toronto in 1987. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in 1988 and the following year completed her MFA in Painting and Sculpture, Yale School of Art, Yale University.

Throughout her career she attended various residencies, such as the Ucross Foundation Artist Residency, in Ucross, Wyoming in 2000 and the Bogliasco Foundation Artist Residency in Genoa, Italy in 2003. She won numerous prestigious awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship Prize in 1997; the Joan Mitchell Foundation award in 1998; and the New York Foundation for the Arts award in 2008; as well as grants from both the Canada Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Her work has been collected by private collectors, as well as major corporate and public institutions, including Rutgers University, New Jersey; Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa; Bank of Montreal, Toronto; Banque Nationale du Canada, Montreal; Art Gallery of Guelph; Oakville Galleries; the Hart House Collection at the University of Toronto, and private collections throughout Canada and the United States. When Thomasos died tragically in 2012, she was at the height of her career, with major museum shows, a full professorship, New York and Toronto gallery representation, and many prestigious awards and residencies.

About Remai Modern

Remai Modern is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Traditional Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to First Nations and Métis ancestors and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

Remai Modern is a new museum of modern and contemporary art in Saskatoon. The museum presents and collects local and international modern and contemporary art that connects, inspires and challenges diverse audiences through equitable and accessible programs.

Open since October 2017, Remai Modern is the largest contemporary art museum in western Canada and houses a collection of more than 8,000 works, including the world’s foremost collection of Picasso linocut prints.

Remai Modern would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Frank & Ellen Remai Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, SaskCulture through the Sask Lotteries Fund, SK Arts and the City of Saskatoon.

Remai Modern along with the Art Gallery of Ontario would also like to acknowledge the Canada Council for the Arts’ Arts Across Canada program, for its generous support of this tour.

About the AGO

Located in Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, attracting approximately one million visitors annually. The AGO Collection of more than 120,000 works of art ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art to significant works by Indigenous and Canadian artists to European masterpieces. The AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, including solo exhibitions and acquisitions by diverse and underrepresented artists from around the world. The AGO is committed to being welcoming and accessible: admission is free for anyone under 25 years, and anyone can purchase an annual pass for $35. In 2022, the AGO began the design phase of an expansion project intended to increase exhibition space for the museum’s growing modern and contemporary collection. When construction begins in 2024, it will be the seventh expansion that the AGO has undertaken since it was founded in 1900. Visit AGO.ca to learn more.

The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO Members, donors and private-sector partners.

For additional information contact:

Stephanie McKay
Communications Manager, Remai Modern