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Work of the late indigenous artist Benjamin Chee Chee on display at AGS this fall

Chee Chee 'found a ready audience for his unique art'
The art of the late Benjamin Chee Chee is being exhibited at the Art Gallery of Sudbury Sept. 20 to Nov. 18. (Supplied)

The visual art exhibition Benjamin Chee Chee: Life and Legacy opens at the Art Gallery of Sudbury Sept. 20, and runs to Nov. 18.

View paintings, as well as personal items and documents, from this nationally-renowned artist. 

Originally from Temagami First Nation, Chee Chee, who tragically died by suicide at age 32 in 1977, first captivated Canada's contemporary Indigenous art scene with his Nicholas Art Gallery exhibition in Ottawa in 1973.  

During his four years as a full time professional visual artist in Montreal and Ottawa, Chee Chee’s work was prolific and disparate, ranging from his iconic “Friends” and “Benji birds” to his less generally familiar abstracts. 

At this time, Indigenous artists across Canada had begun to make their voices heard in galleries in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, and beyond.  
Benjamin Chee Chee united himself with trailblazing artists such as Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, and Alex Janvier.  

"Chee Chee found a ready audience for his unique art, albeit an audience that typically view 'Indian Art' within a racial discourse, separate from mainstream Canadian art,” Carmen Robertson writes in her essay, “The Making of a Movement: Chee Chee and Trailblazing Artists of the 1960’s and 1970’s,” included in the accompanying catalogue. 

“Chee Chee and his compatriot artists routinely struggled to resist deeply entrenched stereotypical categorizations held by the art world.” 

The exhibition comprises a comprehensive selection of Chee Chee’s works gathered from galleries and individuals across the province. 

The exhibition presents a personal perspective, honouring his life and work through collaborations, including those with close friends. 

“We thank the Temiskaming Art Gallery, and curator Felicity Buckell, for organizing this exhibition and connecting with friends, family, and community members to collect stories of this young artist full of life,” said a press release.

The Art Gallery of Sudbury is located at 251 John St. It's open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. To 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit, or phone 705-675-4871.