A closer look at two leaders of their fields.

In another of our “Top artists from…” series, this week we will be focusing on Canada, and discussing two of their world-renowned artists.

Jeff Wall
Ranked 2 in Canada, 150 Globally

The “cinematographic” works of Jeff Wall often appear as though he always happens to be in the right place at the right time to capture moments with documentarian precision. In fact, his pieces are researched, planned and carefully staged. Within the staging, freedom and time are given to his subjects which results in the moments that he captures being true and real lived experiences in their own right, and it is perhaps that which has us most beguiled.

Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai), 1993, Transparency in Lightbox, 229×337 cm

Often his works are also made up of multiple photographs taken over several months and stitched together. Such as in the case of A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) (1993), where he nods to the work of Katsushika Hokusai, in another common through-line of his references the artworks of great artists past. By placing his photographs in light-boxes, something that was previously only used for advertising, by producing them in such large sizes, and by creating such intricate stories within his works, he demanded that a photograph be given the same attention as a painting.

Our database has 589 shows listed in his 40+ years long successful career. He has had solo exhibitions at the MOMA, Tate, Musee d’Orsay to name but a tiny few and his photography has since inspired generations. Jeff Wall was born, and still lives in Vancouver.

Kapwani Kiwanga
Ranked 9 in Canada, 550 Globally

Kapwani Kiwanga is a trained Anthropologist and social scientist, which feeds directly into her fascinating research-based practice, resulting in sculptures, installations, video and performance. Although Kiwanga was born, raised and completed her first degree in Canada, her artistic career commenced in France, and continued to skyrocket onto the international stage. Her fact-based works, which explore amongst other themes, afrofuturism and anti-colonial struggle, are often delivered with a slight re-positioning, so as to cast elements of doubt on the historical depictions, encouraging marginal discourse.

Kapwani Kiwanga, Flowers for Africa: Rwanda, 2019, Installation

She refers to a number of her pieces as “Protocolar works”, which much like their title suggests, follow strict protocols in their re-creation before being exhibited. A perfect example of this, and of her celebrated work, would be her ongoing series, Flowers for Africa,(2012-) for which she won the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2020. The works in this series are based on images of floral arrangements that were present during moments of historical importance in Africa, such as when an African country becomes independent. The flowers are silent, overlooked witnesses to these occasions. The floral arrangements are partial to the interpretation of the florist recreating them, as they are only supplied with often blurry, or black and white archived images.

Her detailed, fact-driven approach to her art, sets her apart. In her 15 year career, Kiwanga has already established herself as a key player in the art-world, she has 145 shows listed in our database, and that number will clearly keep growing. Kapwani Kiwanga was born in Ontario and now lives in Paris.

Jeff Wall, Ranking Chart

On the data side of things, Wall has remained in the top 200 ranked artists since 1994.

Kapwani Kiwanga, Ranking Chart

Kiwanga’s ranking has been in constant growth since 2013, and shows know signs of slowing down.

Though having completely different approaches to their work, in one way, they are very similar. The creations of both are perfect examples of the power of storytelling in Art.

Let’s make history happen.

The Artfacts Team