Artwork by Gregory Richard Curnoe,  Untitled (Canadian Flag)

Greg Curnoe
Untitled (Canadian Flag)

stamp ink, gouache and graphite on paper
dated October 19, 1980 upper right
4 x 7 ins ( 10.2 x 17.8 cms )

Sold for $2,300.00
Sale date: July 20th 2017

Judith Roger, “Greg Curnoe: Life and Work” (online publication), Art Canada Institute, Toronto, 2016, pages 49-50
Sarah Milroy, “Greg Curnoe: Life and Stuff”, ed. Dennis Reid and Matthew Teitelbaum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2001, page 67

A fervent regionalist and artist activist, Greg Curnoe's practice was very much influenced by the small details and symbols of the day to day. Often labelled as anti-American, this categorization fueled Curnoe's practice of producing decidedly tongue-and-cheek pro-Canadian writings and artworks.

Beginning his artistic career in a politically charged decade, the distinct rise of American culture influencing Canada was a particular point of contention for the artist. For Curnoe, the impact to academia with an influx of American academics finding positions at Canadian institutions— in an effort to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War— was an affront to the work and intellect of Canadian academics being passed over in favour of their American counterparts. It was the over-arching American cultural-imperialism, as opposed to individuals or specific aspects of American culture, which outraged Curnoe and inspired his vibrant charged pieces.

“Untitled (Canadian Flag)” employs the national flag with altered colours— depicted using the artists signature technique of contrasting colours rooted in colour theory— as a comment and a visual play on the notion of national identity and how traditional symbols constitute feelings of national unity, culture and ultimate identity. Rather than a cohesive sense of togetherness on a national level, Curnoe instead felt that Canadian identity resided at a regional level within the distinct regional cultures and communities across the country. The question of what it is to be Canadian, then, is posed in this token of cultural symbolism.

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Gregory Richard Curnoe
(1936 - 1992)