Scène en nature près de Walla Walla

Sonny Assu | A Selective History

La Guilde, in partnership with Land InSights, master coordinator of the Montreal First Peoples Festival, PRESENTS THE EXHIBITION SONNY ASSU: A SELECTIVE HISTORY

July, 26th to november 24th, 2018

Montreal, July 26, 2018 - Today was held the vernissage of the most awaited exhibition of the summer. In partnership with Land InSights, master coordinator of the Montreal First Peoples Festival, La Guilde presents the exhibition Sonny Assu: A Selective History, from July 26 to November 24, 2018. This exhibition showcases ten works in total from two important series of his most recent productions: #NeverIdle and Interventions on the Imaginary. The corpus of artworks exhibited thus represents five years of creations.

This event will mark La Guilde’s first collaboration with the artist, as well as his first solo exhibition in Montreal since 2016. Sonny Assu is known for his esthetic interventions which call to mind tags (graffiti); boasting abstract and ovoidal shapes, they are distinctive of Northwest coast iconography, acting as a claim to First Nations cultures, despite Canada’s repeated efforts to assimilate such cultures. Also known for his sense of humour and his subversive works, the artist bases his practice on the exploration of consumption, colonization and imperialism.

‘’I just want people around the world to understand that there are ongoing issues in Canada — problems that need to be rectified and understood — issues that challenge what it is to be a “Canadian” and how we, as Canadians, will be viewed on the world stage. When I’ve approached my work from that place of humour and cheekiness, it’s been done as a way to welcome people into the conversation around colonialism, and have them understand that Indigenous issues are ongoing.’’ - Becky Rynor, Interview with Sonny Assu, National Gallery of Canada, 2015.

To underline the importance of such an exhibition, were present Sonny Assu, Constance V. Pathy, Michelle Joannette (respectively President and Executive Director of La Guilde) and André Dudemaine (Director of Cultural Activities at Land InSights).


On July 28, from 2 to 3:15 PM, within the framework of its educational component, La Guilde invites you to the artist talk with Sonny Assu, which will include a commented visit of his exhibition.


Multidisciplinary artist born in 1975 in North Delta, British Columbia, Sonny Assu only discovers his Liǥwildaʼx̱w / Kwakwaka’wakw heritage at the age of eight years old. A crucial revelation which will several years later become the esthetic starting point of his artistic practice. Having grown up in suburbia, Assu was from a tender age fully immersed in pop culture. In his work, one can denote among others references to graffiti, to science fiction series, and to new technologies. His artwork, halfway between tradition and modernity, creates a dialogue on the exploration of consumption, colonization and imperialism. Through disillusioned humour, he explores his own family history, while attempting to highlight Canada’s shadowy past with regards to its relations with First Nations peoples.

Despite being in his young forties, Assu has an impressive track record. Having graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in British Columbia, and in 2017 with a Master’s degree from Concordia University in Quebec, he has received numerous prizes and distinctions, the most notable being the BC Creative Achievement Award in First Nations Art in 2011, and in 2017, he won the REVEAL grant, First Nations Art category. His work has been exhibited in the most prestigious museums and galleries in Canada, Paris and in Seattle. His artwork has been integrated into many noteworthy collections, such as that of the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. He currently lives and works in Ligwiłda’xw (Campbell River, BC.), an unceded territory.


Land InSights is the driving force behind the Montreal First Peoples Festival, a multidisciplinary artistic and cultural event that makes Montreal the nerve centre of Indigenous creativity from the three Americas for ten days in August. We set three strategic objectives upon our foundation in 1990: create a major First Nations festival in Montreal, commemorate and remember the Great Peace of Montreal 1701 upon its tricentennial, and secure a permanent home for First Cultures in Québec’s metropolis. Mission: Link the artistic and cultural renaissance of First Peoples to the cultural dynamics of a major metropolis within a sustainable development perspective based on friendship between peoples, diversity of sources of expression as a collective cultural wealth to share and recognition of the specificity of First Nations.


La Guilde, historical gallery and museum institution of Canadian art, has been preserving, promoting and encouraging fine crafts for more than one hundred years. Specializing in Inuit and First Nations art, La Guilde is a non-profit organization that holds a permanent collection, one of the most influential in Canada, a historically and culturally rich archives department, an educational program with a broad outreach, and a gallery which draws together works by renowned and emerging artists. Situated in downtown Montreal, La Guilde’s gallery offers all of its customers high quality contemporary art.

Image: Sonny Assu, Home Coming, 2014,digital intervention on Paul Kane painting (Scene near Walla Walla, 1848-52), edition of 5, 22.5 x 36.25 po/in. Courtesy of the artist and Art Mûr Gallery.​​