Wednesday 4 August 2010

Migration (1994) Norval Morrisseau

Untitled (Migration)
Norval Morrisseau
1994, acrylic on canvass, 55" x 183"

From the beginning, Morrisseau created a visual bridge from the culture of the Anishnaabe to art, in terms of subject matter and style. His pictographic style has its roots in the distinctive beadwork of the Anishnaabe, where black rows of beads separate and delineate shapes such as the petals of a flower. He also had an early interest in colour, perhaps derived from the iconography of the Ojibway people in their traditional clothing, adornments, dyed porcupine quills and, later, glass beads.

To this Morrisseau added his own iconography. He reveals the souls of humans and animals through what has been simplistically termed an x-ray style of imaging. Sinewy black spirit lines emanate, surround and link the figures,while stylized skeletal elements and internal organs within the figures’ segments represent their spirituality, as well as, sometimes, their physical strength(rigid bone structure) or health and vitality(enlarged heart of a bird). Dots denote power. Lines drawn out of people’s mouths represent power or communication or establish relationships. An intersected circle expresses the idea of duality - night and day, men and women - and the concept of the necessity of two halves to balance the whole.

Barbara Sibbald
Exerpt from - Artist as visionary - 2006

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