Robert Davidson: The Abstract Edge

November 26, 2005 to January 29, 2006

The Kelowna Art Gallery is proud to be the only western Canadian venue for the National Gallery of Canada’s tour of the exhibition Robert Davidson: The Abstract Edge. This exhibition brings a major selection of paintings and sculpture by this nationally renowned, Vancouver-based, Haida artist to the Okanagan for the first time. Davidson’s efforts to expand and transform his understanding of Haida art and philosophy are exhibited here through his engagement with abstraction, with reclaiming cultural knowledge, and with developing a personal iconography in his art.

My passion is reconnecting with my ancestors’ knowledge. The philosophy is what bred the art, and now the art has become the catalyst for us to explore the philosophy. I feel that, for Haida people, it’s the art that has helped us to reclaim our place – to reclaim our beliefs, mythology and spirituality. Other facets we’re working on are on language and our songs, our dances, our Haida names. What’s exciting for me is to express what the art is all about from my experience. My roots are from the village: my roots are creating art for my aunties and my grandmother and her grandmothers. That is the foundation of where I come from. I’m fortunate that I had a grandmother named Florence Davidson who challenged me, in her own subtle way, to learn more about our culture, and who also challenged me in the art. When I go outside the Haida boundaries, I am challenged, too – I want the art to be recognized as a high art form. I feel it is up to the artists to bring it into that arena, to challenge the art world’s blinders of “curio” that still define how our art is seen.

– Robert Davidson quoted in curator Karen Duffek’s essay The Present Moment: Conversations with guud san glans.

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