Sunday, January 22, 2017

Alex Janvier

As I mentioned some days ago in my Morning Star post from the Museum of History, Alex Janvier is a Dene Suline and Saulteaux descended artist from Cold Lake, Alberta, one of the commonly referred Indian Group Of Seven. These were artists who exhibited together for some years, and continued friendships even after the formal disbanding of the group. Mr. Janvier painted Morning Star in 1993, which can be glimpsed in a projected form to the right in this first shot. His style is abstract and modern, weaving together First Nations culture and concerns with Western influences. For over a decade from 1966- 1977, he incorporated his treaty number, 287, with his signature on art as a protest against the treatment of First Nations people. He's still active today from his studios in Cold Lake, and his work is now the subject of a major retrospective at the National Gallery, until mid-April. 

The canvases found within vary in shape, from circles to squares and rectangles, and offer up bright, vibrant colours in abstract and representational forms. His use of the circle is perhaps most obvious in Morning Star, which I appreciated seeing in a video form in a different setting.

Mr. Janvier is a product of the residential school system, but officials there early on recognized his artistic skill and encouraged it; his formal education in art took place in Calgary. These early canvases show a mix of influences- his cultural background and the religious emphasis of residential schools.

This particular work, which I did note the name of, is an acrylic from 1966, Eternal Struggle, part of a commission of his work at that time from the federal department of Indigenous And Northern Affairs Canada. 

These three caught my eye. There were 150 of his works on display here, so I'll have to go back before the exhibit wraps up. Usually with modern art, whether or not the art speaks to me often depends on the particular work, but his vibrant style with rich colours really appeals to me.

For today I finish with this work, with its explanation preceding it. I have more from this exhibit tomorrow.


  1. The three pieces that caught your eye also caught my eye, William. And I really like the last piece!

  2. The eternal struggle is what caught my eye.

  3. I like Janvier's work very much William, I have the perfect spot for the middle piece of the three just above here 😊

  4. I especially like his use of color and the circular patterns and swirls. The art is most enjoyable and I can see why he's so popular.

  5. i enjoy the last one with that kind of gear colored look. very creative. i love different unique types of art so much. very cool! ( ;

  6. @Linda: me too!

    @Debs: it is quite a work of art.

    @Grace: it was an exhibition I quite enjoyed.

    @Orvokki: indeed!

    @Lowell: he created quite a legacy for himself.

    @Beth: thanks!

  7. You really find the good stuff to go to. I prefer the more aboriginal influenced art with the colors and shapes

  8. A truly interesting body of work by a great artist!

  9. What a talent. HIs work certainly appeals to me.

  10. It definitely appeals to me too. Beautiful!

  11. Yes, the final piece is stunning.

  12. I love learning about First Nations art and culture. Thank you for sharing!


  13. @Red: I imagine Norval Morrisseau's style might be more to your liking.

    @Merisi: it was enjoyable to walk among his creations.

    @Sharon: I was glad to have come to see them.

    @Lois: he has tremendous talent.

    @Nancy: thank you!

    @Catalyst: it certainly is.

    @Janis: you're welcome.

  14. Ironic that the sad boarding school system ('Carlyle Schools in the US)
    gave rise to the development and sharing of his talent as a national treasure.

  15. I really like his work, William.

  16. Such great art works! Vibrant style with rich colors describes his works perfectly and it sure is very appealing!

  17. @Marleen: thanks!

    @Jennifer: the colours really are lively.

    @Cloudia: who'd have thought it possible?

    @RedPat: as do I.

    @Tamago: it was.

  18. I like those three works in the middle and the last one as well.

  19. Very appealing art. I really like the last piece.

  20. Thank You for showing us more of his work.
    If I lived closer I would be there at the show.

    cheers, parsnip

  21. His works are certainly vivid. Seeing in person would give another perspective. All residential or Indian Schools as they were called here when children were moved from the reservation have been closed here. I'm presuming the same is true for Canada. Most were religious in nature.

  22. Striking work! Native history is too often swept under a rug and the people are thought of as gone. Though every attempt was made to extinguish them they are still among us, as Janvier's work testifies.

  23. @Jan: thanks!

    @Revrunner: it was.

    @Bill: I do too.

    @Parsnip: I'll definitely stop in again.

    @Mari: yes, the residential school system here was finally closed up. We're still seeing its aftermath though.

    @Kay: his work boldly testifies to that.

    @Norma: he certainly does.

  24. Reconciliation demands that we view such. Just have to get into town!

    1. Check this exhibit out if you can before it's done in April.