Inspiring Canadian Artists – Part II July 2, 2019
Bill Reid (1920-1998)
Bill Reid, is one of Canada’s most revered and inspiring artists. Born in Victoria, BC, his father was an American, of Scottish/German heritage, and his mother was from the Raven/Wolf Clan of T’anuu, more simply known as Haida. Reid was an accomplished artist, sculptor, and jewelry maker. He is certainly Canada’s best known indigenous artists. In fact, some of his artwork can even be found on the Canadian $20 bill ( as part of the Canadian Journey series, printed between 2004 and 2012).
David Altmejd (b. 1974)
Born in Montreal, artist David Altmejd constructs his sculptures using materials such as wood, foam, plaster and burlap. These sculptures, typically stand several metres tall. His style might be considered grotesque by some, and is characterized by uncontrolled overlapping of figures or elements. His sculptures often combine unrelated random objects in completely surprising or thought-provoking ways. One, for example, shows decapitated werewolf heads combined with Stars of David. In the work, The Healers, fragments of body parts emerge, uncharacteristically, from unusual places.
Shayne Dark (b. 1952)
Shayne Dark began his career as an artist in the 1980s. Often composed using pole-like, and geometric structures, his work is characteristically modern, but at the same time, quite organic looking. Many of his sculptures are to be found outdoors, in public settings, with a decidedly ‘architectural’ perspective.
Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002)
Jean-Paul Riopelle was born in Montreal in 1923. In 1945, he attended the école du Meuble. There he became a member of the Les Automatistes, a group of Montreal artists interested in Surrealism. Two years later, Riopelle moved to Paris, where he continued to explore his interest in Surrealism. While in Paris, he developed a reputation as the ‘wild Canadian’. Eventually, Riopelle’s painting style became more closely aligned with Abstract Expressionism. It was a style characterized by gobs of multicolored, geometric shapes applied with a palette knife rather than a brush. “When I begin a painting,” said Riopelle , “I always hope to complete it in a few strokes, starting with the first colors I daub down anywhere and anyhow. But it never works, so I add more, without realizing it. I have never wanted to paint thickly, paint tubes are much too expensive. But one way or another, the painting has to be done. When I learn how to paint better, I will paint less thickly.”
I’m always inspired by the work, not only of great artists of the past, but also of the artists who are my peers. I have introduced you now, perhaps, to some new faces in the Canadian art world. Canada has a unique artistic perspective inspired, not only by our landscape, but also by our culture. I hope you find some of these elements in my own work, too!