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Douglas Coupland premieres his latest work The National Portrait at the new Ottawa Art Gallery

June 21, 2018

Press Release

Ottawa, ON (21 June 2018) – Celebrated Canadian novelist and artist, Douglas Coupland, unveils his latest work The National Portrait at the Ottawa Art Gallery on June 29, 2018. In partnership with Canadian fashion retailer Simons, Coupland has created a 3D portrait of Canadians in the twenty-first century. The National Portrait is a collection of 3D printed portraits arranged in a garden-like formation with faces looking forward towards both the sun and the future. Gold and silver metallic finishes adds richness to the sculpture’s components which sit atop risers, as Coupland describes “hijacking the aesthetics of retail display.”

“We are so pleased to debut Douglas Coupland’s The National Portrait, commissioned by Simons, at the new Ottawa Art Gallery during Canada Day and throughout the summer. This bold new work by one of Canada’s most important contemporary artists and cultural critics draws the viewer into a spectacle of faces reflecting not only a diversity of experiences but the democratization and proliferation of the portrait as an art form.”
-Alexandra Badzak, Ottawa Art Gallery, Director and Chief Executive Officer

Coupland’s ambitious large-scale installation is made from hundreds of 3D-printed portraits scanned voluntarily from members of the public at Simons store locations on a cross-country tour. This crowd-sourced artistic initiative ran from July 2015 until April 2017, and included stops in nine cities: Quebec City, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Mississauga, Ottawa, Calgary, Yellowknife and Halifax. Each participant received a hand-sized version of their own 3D printed bust.

Commissioned by Simons and in keeping with their commitment to local arts and culture, the project also highlights the retailer’s expansion across Canada. As described by President Peter Simons, “The National Portrait is much more than a Simons project. As we traveled from city to city, it quickly became a national piece of art using technology that people were fascinated to experience as they watched their own 3D portraits being printed. Unveiling The National Portrait in the nation’s capital is quite fitting.”

Presented by Simons in partnership with Ottawa Art Gallery

Exhibition Dates: June 29, 2018 – August 19, 2018

The National Portrait: By the Numbers

1,700 total number of heads scanned

1,000 total number of heads in the piece

70 kilometers of biodegradable plastic filament used

11 months to print all the pieces of the sculpture

15 3D printers used

Media previews and one-on-one interviews with Douglas Coupland or Alexandra Badzak will be held on June 28th at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Those who are unable to attend are also able to request phone interviews and high res photos of the exhibit.

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Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)

OAG is Ottawa municipal’s art gallery and cultural hub. Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, the expanded Gallery is a contemporary luminous cube designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés.

For media enquiries, photos, or to set-up interviews please contact:

Véronique Couillard
Ottawa Art Gallery
613-233-8699, x244

Andrea Chrysanthou
Global Public Affairs

About Simons

Simons was founded in 1840 by John Simons as a dry goods store in Quebec City and has since built its reputation on being an accessible and inspired fashion brand. Simons is led by brothers Peter and Richard Simons who carry on the family legacy and the brand’s commitment to cultivating creativity and building meaningful relationships with staff, partners and customers. All 15 Simons stores are compelling, original environments that inspire customers through fashion, art and architecture.


OAG is Open from 10 AM to 6 PM Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday | from 10 AM to 9 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Admission is always FREE.