Monday, February 8, 2016

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

The support on which my latest reading materials sit is a stack of 1970s artscanada magazines I picked up at a garage sale a couple weeks back. The quality of writing in artscanada is higher than what passes for a lot of art criticism today (better sentences, though at its worst it is equally connoisseurial), while the artscanada writer I take delight in, more than all others, is Joan Lowndes.

In her 1972 introduction to the work of Haida artist Robert Davidson (whose work debuted at Vancouver's Galerie Allen earlier that year), Lowndes describes the artist as: "… a spiritual grandson of Max Ernst, who paints monster birds in a sinister no-place lit by pale suns." Such poetry!

Funny our tendency to describe those in relation to others. Just the other day I described Kwakwaka'wakw artist Beau Dick to an Austrian art historian as "our Joseph Beuys." I did the same in an upcoming catalogue essay on Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, where I spoke of the artist's more recent painting phases in relation to modernists like Lorser Feitelson and Robert Ryman.

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