APTN National News
First Nations artist Alex Janvier has garnered many awards for his art throughout the past several decades, but at the age of 81, he stays close to home at the Cold Lake First Nation in Alberta where he runs a small art gallery there.
Thousands of kilometres away, his work is being featured at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
The exhibition includes 154 paintings in various styles that span Janvier’s 65-year career as an artist.
“These earliest paintings are from 1950, while he was a student,” said curator Greg Hill. “He was commissioned to do representations of religious icons, except he paints them with a difference, he Indigenizes them.”
The collection also includes a room which pays homage to the group known as the “Indian Group of Eight” for their efforts in fighting to have their work displayed.
“Alex thinks of it as the Indian Group of Eight because he includes reference to Bill Reid as a member of that group because of his early contributions in their early discussions of how they could come together as professional artists and basically work their way into public art galleries,” said Hill.
Other members include Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray, Joseph Sanchez and Reid.
According to Hill, Janvier’s is the sixth solo exhibition that the National Gallery has now devoted to Indigenous artists. And this one is the most popular.
“They’re blown away by the range of his work, the seriousness of his approach, the depth of his political activism and cultural knowledge and his experiences as a residential school survivor. All of that kind of creates this image of Alex Janvier not only as an artist but as a human being, as an Indigenous person in Canada.”
Janvier’s collection will be on display until mid-April.