Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Alex Janvier

(source), Alex Janvier, Where the Big Fish Live, 1973

(source), Alex Janvier, the insurance on the tee pee, 1972

Alex Janvier is one of Canada's premier artists, his work is ethereal and soul lifting, and political all at the same time. I love his work- I find it wholly original and unique, and somehow related to his past and cultural background without being unrelatable or single minded. His aboriginal background informs his work, and yet it's not the only thing that informs his work. It's simply an expression of who he is- and it's so modern and beautiful for that.

The field of post-colonial art critiques is a minefield, especially in a country like Canada with such a recent colonial history-so I'm tempted not to even bring this up- but I think it's integral to (my love of) Janvier's work in particular, so I'll do my best to add this; He is a living example of a culture that is so often represented in a way that makes it seem like past history.

One of the nasty things about colonialism is the way that it makes whatever culture it's currently trying to colonize out to be a dead culture. This can be seen devastatingly in Canada's policies of assimilation (residential schools, Indian act laws etc.), or even the tendency to look at certain traditions as a historical re enactment (like oh polish dancing- what a great way to get to know your cultural history- instead of oh that's part of your culture, neat). It disintegrates that particular culture, it also makes the members of that culture cling to the way things were without realising that they are living members of that culture, not some dying race. It stops that culture from changing and suiting the needs of current generations, which kills it off for good, as it becomes something other than what they do every day. As a result that culture becomes an antiquity, a historical relic.

Alex Janvier's works are gems among Canada's art scene, and the best thing is that he's prolific, check out his latest works at his website-

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