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Benjamin Chee Chee: Life and Legacy

Dec 4, 2021 – March 5, 2022


 Woodland Cultural Centre extends new exhibition Benjamin Chee Chee: Life and Legacy celebrating Indigenous artist Benjamin Chee Chee from Bear Island, Temagami Reserve, Ontario. 


(Brantford/Six Nations, ON)Woodland Cultural Centre is thrilled to announce the retrospective exhibition “Benjamin Chee Chee: Life and Legacy” from the Temiskaming Art Gallery with Guest Curator, Felicity Buckell. The innovative and inspiring art of Benjamin Chee Chee will be on exhibit from December 4, 2021 and extended to March 5, 2022 


Benjamin Chee Chee (March 14, 1944-March 11,1977) grew up on Bear Island, Temagami Reserve. Chee Chee was more than a colourful personality and more than a tragic figure. He was a trail blazing artist who worked alone because of his innovative style. He died young, leaving in the legacy of this youthful work the promise of what could have been. His work was prolific and distinctive, from his iconic series of “Benji birds” to an important grouping of seminal abstract artworks.  


The “Life and Legacy” exhibition is the third major retrospective exhibition that was first held at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery (TBAG) in 1983 followed by in 1991, a second exhibition, “Benjamin Chee Chee: The Black Geese Portfolio”, curated by Robert Houle and featured the last body of work prior to his death. Chee Chee was prolific and distinct. “Less was more”, his painting reveals a tireless interest in abstracting the essence of an image. A strong design and structural minimalism are dramatic evidence of a continued exploration of positive and negative space, simple lyrical lines and monochromatic forms that depict images of wildlife. His renowned geese are breathing, flapping or flying giving a sense of vitality, grace and a sense of humour.  

Thirty-five works are borrowed from the Indigenous Art Centre, Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (Gatineau), Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Temagami First Nation Band Council, private collectors and close friends of Chee Chee. An exhibition catalogue is available. 

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