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The exhaustive thought

Works by:
Zanis Waldheims

Zanis Waldheims:
The exhaustive thought

October 28 – November 21, 2020

Curated by Xenia Benivolski

University of Toronto Art Centre

While the Art Museum plans to re-open on Wednesday, October 28, the safety of the community remains our priority. We are closely following the guidelines set by
the government and the University of Toronto and will respond accordingly as the situation evolves.


The exhaustive thought is the first Canadian solo exhibition of works by outsider artist Zanis Wadheims. Born in Latvia in 1909, Waldheims immigrated to Montreal, Canada in early 1952 where he continued his life in exile. Spanning 40 years of practice, Waldheims’ written and visual art work is a diagrammatic illustration of a self-conceived ideological system that illuminates structural parallels between different systems of knowledge.

The exhibition presents a selection of crayon drawings, paper sketches, and archival materials. The works are dense, colourful geometrical compositions in which each line and shade is assigned a social, philosophical, psychological, or existential value. Waldheims conceived of his works as diagrams, however his use of colour and technique reposition them as works of art.

In exploring his practice, one might consider the motivations behind making art, the nature of expression itself, and the structures of validity that guide the art world. For Waldheims, the determination of the exiled suggests that infinite other worlds may exist. In the spaces between translation and understandings, and in the small gaps between systems of inclusion and exclusion, this work offers a view into one such world.

This exhibition is produced as part of the requirements for the MVS degree in Curatorial Studies at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto.

Exhibition Resources

Exhibition Brochure

Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council with the additional project support from TD Insurance.

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