Kim Ondaatje is an artist, filmmaker, and cultural advocate whose diverse efforts have greatly impacted the lives of artists in Canada. This retrospective exhibition includes selections from over twenty-five public and private collections across Canada and offers a comprehensive survey of Ondaatje’s career.
Ondaatje’s exploration of painting became a full-time effort by the mid 1960’s following her studies at the Ontario College of Art, McGill University, and Queen’s University. Included in this exhibition are three distinct cycles of work: her earliest forays into minimalist, often abstracted, yet bold landscape imagery; a later, pared-down, subtly toned collection of interior scenes known as The House on Picadilly Street series; and a group of industrial images known as the Factory series. A film from the Factory series is also included.
Over time, Ondaatje’s painting evolved from a conventional style through more formalist abstraction and representational work, investigating place and space. From the landscapes of her early work, through the interiors, and later the factory scenes, Ondaatje’s paintings reveal an artist interested in investigating her surroundings, which in turn helped to widen the scope of the Canadian landscape tradition.
In 2009, together with Tony Urquhart, Kim Ondaatje received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Art for Outstanding Contribution for their role (with the late Jack Chambers) in establishing the nonprofit association promoting artists’ rights, Canadian Artist’s Representation (CARFAC).
Ondaatje’s art has been shown in Canada and internationally from the 1960s to the present. This was organized by Museum London with support from the Museums Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage.