Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Who's That?" A.E. Robillard, Documentary Artist


Although this painting by A.E. Robillard was done in 1900, and is loosely classified as documentary art, it was most likely just a painting. Nothing more. Nothing less. The classification was likely made by others, years later as they sorted through his works. That being said, it's quite likely that it survived the years because of its documentary statement surpassed its artistic qualities.

The work has an overall grey tone. The softly hued shadows effectively interprets the weak northern sunlight.

I wonder if the artist, wondered, how he could turn such a mundane setting into a painting? There isn't much to be seen. There is the fort, the sky, the ground and a few scattered rocks, a tipi and two people.

Its interesting, how far a little imagination can take us.  The person with the big backpack walking towards the fort is an unusual event, The man in the foreground is running towards the open tent and its easy to surmise that he is calling others to tell them of walker's arrival.

The sleeping dog caught my attention.  Anyone who has been to the North West Territories knows that their dogs are as much wolf as canine and if native dogs aren't staked to the ground they run, fast and hard and as far from people as they can possibly get.

Painting:  Fort McPherson, 2,000 miles north of Edmonton
Artist A.E.Robillard
Source: Archives of Canada
watercolour: 35x27cm

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