Sunday, October 23, 2016

national gallery visit

Jutai Toonoo The Arsennal 2012, Oil Stick on Paper  Cape Dorset
I'm writing this after a brief stop in Canada's capital, Ottawa.
Grace and I visited the National Gallery.  We saw several large horizontal artworks on display, like the drawing above by Jutai Toonoo about his mother's cancer treatment.
We also viewed Robert Houle's Kanata. a conte crayon drawing over acrylic that appropriates the 1770 painting by Benjamin West about the death of General Wolfe on the plains of Abraham. This battle between the English and the French is a pivotal moment in Canadian history.
 "Native people are just voyeurs in the history of this country" Robert Houle said, referring to the French-English division in Canada that has ignored the indiginous peoples' land claims for years.
Robert Houle won Canada's highest honour, the Govenor General Award  in 2015.   Throughout his long 40 year career, he has certainly not been a voyeur, but an active participant in our nation's culture and politics.  View some of his paintings here, here, and here.

The following text is from the G G aard nomination.

Working from his knowledge of Anishinaabe conventions of abstraction embedded in such arts as quillwork, and from his research into Western art history, Houle has forged a new, and distinctly Indigenous, visual language, informed by complex currents of Aboriginal traditionalism, European realism, and American modernism, and shaped by autobiography, historical events, and contemporary politics. 
It was synchronistic to come across Robert Houle.  I just posted a new moderinst aesthetic blog post about Rebecca Belmore and quote Mr. Houle in it.  Here.


  1. Indigenous peoples all over the planet are also observers, onlookers, but not always inactive. The painter is wonderful.

  2. This was my first art gallery since my femur broke in June.


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