Thursday, February 02, 2006

National Gallery ofCanada opens major retrospective (February 3- April 30, 2006) on the work and life of Norval Morriseau

Great CBC "flash" gallery.


National Gallery of Canada; Norval Morriseau exhibit.



(Excerpt from National Gallery website; Exhibitions page): "The show chronicles Morrisseau's search for a style of art that would integrate his deepening interpretation of ancient Anishnaabe spirituality within a contemporary art form. His desire to create a bridge of understanding between native and non-native cultures is demonstrated in these highly communicative works, about 60 in all, that appeal to a broad audience without diminishing the integrity of their content. Drawn from the Gallery's collection and from public and private collections in Canada, the United States, and Israel, many of these works have rarely been on view; some have never been exhibited.

Organized chronologically, they include drawings, painted objects, and paintings - including early works painted on such unorthodox surfaces as birchbark and cardboard through to the intensely colourful and large-scale canvases that characterize his maturing form. Viewers encounter an intriguing plethora of images representing animals and plants of the earth, spiritual creatures inhabiting heavenly and underworldly realms, as well as ancestors and human intermediaries who communicate with the spirit world. "


(Excerpt from the CBC page.):"The self-taught painter is arguably Canada's most influential and renowned First Nations artist. Now in his 70s and unable to work due to Parkinson's disease, Morrisseau was once dubbed the "Picasso of the North" by the press in France. In the 1950s, he originated the Anishnaabe, or Woodland, style of painting, influencing other First Nations artists like Carl Ray and Daphne Odjig. Taking inspiration from Northern Ontario pictographs and petroglyphs, the work has a distinctive "x-ray" form of representation and features heavy black lines that surround flat fields of bold colour. Morrisseau's own artistic interests are broad, embracing everything from indigenous Southwestern American art to the avant garde. When he first began to exhibit and sell his work in the 1960s and 1970s, it was hailed as both modern and primitive - a duality that is a signature of the artist's work."



Observations of the Astral World (c. 1994)

Observations of the Astral World (c. 1994)


Artist and Shaman Between Two Worlds (1980)

Artist and Shaman Between Two Worlds (1980)


Water Spirit (1972)

Water Spirit (1972)



I grew up in Red Lake, Northwestern Ontario. It was, for awhile (before my time), also the home of one Norval Morrisseau. There were original Morriseaus all over town: He would trade them for food and alcohol, or money if people didn't have anything to drink.

I was on an archaeological dig in Beardmore, Northern Ontario, in the early nineties. I met his brother, there. The family hadn't seen him in a long time. The bar, in the hotel where we stayed, was literally wallpapered in original Morriseaus (on plywood, it looked like).



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1 comment:

JLB said...

These are beautiful, thank you for sharing them and the articles.