De Nouveaux Mots
(of new words)

 

The series started out as a depiction of le nouvelle vous (the new you). Portrait painting had, after the Kodak evolution in photographic printing, lost it's social value. For me and for the continuity of art history, portrait painting remained utterly viable and a gift for the future, a persistent form from out of our past. As I perceived it, the obvious step forward was to depict lightning fast facial expressions captured in digital photography, slowly and laboriously, transformed into paint. Paint is a proven medium. Acrylic, the paint base I use, has proven itself over the past 60 years with some grumbling from restoration technicians which have been addressed by polymer technicians improving the technology. Sixty years of evolution, nothing in art time. Plastics have evolved. The restorers have not encountered the "new acrylics", yet. It is too soon. Hopefully the new acrylics will not enter the restoration laboratories for a long time. Unfortunately I have seen paintings in acrylic extended with far too much water which severely weakens the acrylic polymer bonding. Modern artists, self proclaimed artists feel that they have a right to paint in anyway they choose and have no interest in the survival of the work. They have no need of expertise.

And, they have that right to do anything they please.

This is my overall, gamble or, in scientific terms, "experiment", which can only be understood in a future time where none of us now living exist. I am attempting to place the imagery in the acrylic medium as stable as I can with what little any of us can know about it in such a short period of time. I put my faith in the evolving acrylic and its technicians of polymer chemistry. Perhaps not "faith" but "industry". Is there a difference?

As the series unfolded, my mother died and I envisioned a new form of a very ancient archetype; funerary art. This is a difficult subject to address outside of painting itself. I tried to make nouveaux mots but, language fails due to it's linearity. There are many pressures of both perspective and chronology in the ancient history of art not the least of which is the hybridisation and internationalisation of culture.

In the beginning came burial... then the sacrifice of wives, servants, soldiers, animals which was eventually replaced by the accompaniment of artifacts representing the people, power, and leisure of life to be carried into the afterlife. Then, most recently, an oil painted portrait of the beloved ancestor. From the tiny perspective of an artist embedded within 60,000 years of our evolving art the view is not just intellectual but, also spiritual and social, aesthetic, symbolic, and materialistic.

Blog: February 02, 2016

As well as the studio working there is also the distribution of the paintings. I no longer possess them. They were given away at our mother's (aunt, great aunt, grandmother, and great grandmother's) funeral PotLuck PotLatch which was an event, "Happening" or "Performance" which occurred six months after her death in a party venue of her closest relatives who played their parts well as well. The only method I have of describing the background of an event in which art objects and food were given away in celebration of a life is through a form of image and literary fiction which I have been developing to enhance the union of New and Old world culture:

 

 

 

The Potluck Potlatch

 

The event was also a shipping story... 4,500 kilometres out and 5,500 kilometres back, including four border crossings. The journey to and from the potlatch was an adventure sketching trip, like the many continental tours of discovery I have taken.

Blog: April 21, 2016 - Potluck Potlatch

Along with the portraits of Nouvelle Vous, I also gave away the the paintings of a series called "Stampede Breakfast"; portraits of my mother's very closest relatives who attended the last Stampede Breakfast party in the year Mary and our two daughters emigrated to Toronto. They were mementos for me but, much more valuable to the sons and daughters of the sitters.

Galleries: Stampede Breakfast

Calgary and Alberta quickly lost the cultural connection to the land and the first two generations of settlers. Settlement, although the basis of everything that now is, was forgotten. The supremacist culture was imported from English United States (New York), Texas, Europe (primarily Britain), and Eastern Canada. The connection between the people and the land was damaged. "The Home Place" is on a rare prairie lake, has a rare artesian spring, and a buffalo jump. My Uncle, Roy (Aldo Gallelli) was taken by natives with his and my Grandfather's approval, trained in their traditions, eventually returned, and the knowledge imparted upon us. Culturally Alberta was, like Montana and all the provinces and states between the Appalachian (Laurentian) and Rocky Mountains, a part of Quebec French Louisiana. It was a part of the M├ętis/Native trading nation of the Mississippi River basin. The Milk River of Southern Alberta, site of native Writing on Stone, flows into the MIssouri to the MIssissippi down to New Orleans.

I have 20 matriarchal, Italian mixed blood, first cousins and they have their own children and their children have children. The majority of my second and third cousins were not known to me having been born after we settled in Ontario 30 years ago. To cover gifts for all of them I took along one print from each of the lithographic editions of my Edge Series and allowed them to chose one or two or three each. I also gave prints and some portraits to, my wife, Mary's large family.

Galleries: The Edge

The Potlatch Potluck was a performance piece as outlined in the concept in the February 02 link above. In it I tried to heal a schist which has plagued our culture as surly as the cultural/class divisions of our Canadian artistic heritage have devolved into a sort of passive conflict between those educated in the accepted history of art and the majority who have been left out of it. Of course there were no representatives of public galleries and post-secondary educational institutions, which are focused upon the failed international conceptual movement, in attendance. Conceptualism and Performance Art do not plunge as deeply into the historic relationships between a people and their art heritage which may be 60,000 years and probably much older. Even though I tried to invite art historians, curators, art workers to the "show" to show how a cultural performance should or could be conducted... none accepted my invitation to witness and record.

I am suggesting that objective, materialist culture is more powerful than subjective, conceptual literary culture. The artworks that I gifted will be kept by their owners and passed on to the next generation because they are "artist quality" objects which attract stories to be passed along to the next generations.

start the exhibition