Saturday, October 24, 2009

Morriseau Speaks Through His Art

Norval Morriseau was one of a small group of native artists who pioneered a unique native style of painting in Canada. His works featured solid colours, hard lines, and separated areas. This picture, lacks perspective and variety of tonal values. It speaks in a flat language for acceptance for what it is. There are no shades to the realities Morriseau gives us in this work. It has an impressionistic reality of its own, like a huge transfer lifted off a rock petroglyph, then compacted and interwoven.

I find that his art, creates more questions than answers. But then again, I am not native.

It is open ended. Is the snake and the penis one and the same along the trail along the bottom of the picture?

Is there an intentional heirarchy in the work, with the central person being dominant?

Are there symbols and meanings in birds, and snakes that are known only to native shaman?

Or, is the unity and interconnection what its all about and if it is, what really matters beyond this? And if there are only questions and no answers, then is that the answer? Is it an existential statement that it simply exists. No more, no less?

Blog readers are welcome to participate in this discussion posting.


  1. I am grasping the inter-connectedness notion a little bit and totem animals being sentient mythical beings as well as being smarter than we know...those blastid crows/ravens are animal geenyuses...with memories and attitudes. So I guess this is part of what Ol Norval knew and that his world view was infused with the weight of thousands of years of his people living among animals that had a far greater significance for them than we are familiar with. I have no idea what the Norv was up to but it does look good and I'll work on getting a better understanding or at least pay a little attention.

  2. I find it interesting how much this artist's style resembles classic Mayan painting in codexes and wall murals throughout Southern Mexico and Central America!


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