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Never-before-seen work of Janvier now on display at AGA
Several never-seen-before drawings and paintings by Aboriginal artist Alex Janvier are now on display at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
A three-month exhibit, simply titled Alex Janvier, opened at the Edmonton-based gallery on May 18 and will continue until Aug. 19.
The exhibit features more than 90 pieces of work, displaying Janvier’s talents as an artist during the past 50 years.
Among the items on display are three paintings and 16 drawings that members of the public have never seen before.
AGA curator Catherine Crowston said she first heard of these items when she travelled about 300 kilometres to visit Janvier’s gallery in Cold Lake. She made the trip to discuss and seek some work that could be placed in the AGA exhibit.
“Alex created the paintings in the late ’60s,” Crowston said. “They were rolled up together in a tube. Some of the paint was loose and flaky.”
But after some work at a Calgary painting conservatory these three paintings were restored sufficiently to be placed on display.
Another exhibit highlight is the 16 drawings Janvier created when he worked at a residential school during the winter of 1962 in Duck Lake, Sask.
Janvier received a rather pleasant surprise two years ago when somebody recognized the works as his and returned them to him.
“For paperworks they were really well preserved,” Crowston said.
The exhibit also includes some recent Janvier pieces, canvases created last year as well as this year that pay homage to members of what is commonly referred to as the Indian Group of Seven.
Janvier himself is a member of this group which is officially named the Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporation. The group was founded in 1973 to not only promote their work but Aboriginal art in general.
The Group of Seven comprises Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Carl Ray, Joseph Sanchez and Janvier.
The 77-year-old Janvier, who has Dene Suline and Saulteaux ancestry, is thrilled at having a three-month exhibit at the AGA.
He previously had his works on display at this facility in 1992, when it was called the Edmonton Art Gallery.
“This is the major one,” he said. “It means a lot to see (about) 90 works hanging in one gallery. This is the first really serious showcase of my work. It means a great deal to get into the inner sanctum of the great art walls there.”
Crowston, understandably, is also thrilled to have a major Janvier exhibit ongoing now.
“Alex is a really important artist in Alberta and also nationally,” she said.
Janvier graduated with honours from Calgary’s Alberta Institute of Technology and Art, which has since been renamed the Alberta College of Art and Design.
Janvier attended a media preview of his exhibit that was staged on May 17. But since he was the centre of attention, he said he didn’t have enough time to get as good a look as he wanted to of his works.
“I’d like to go back and spend some time there,” he said.
Janvier added he is glad the exhibit ranges from his old to most recent work.
“It’s my own personal growth as an art person,” he said.
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