Edward Poitras: Revolution in the Rock Garden

Background: Pile of Cars. B/W images on mylar with vinyl type. 1994. 75.00 x 105.50 x 17.00 cm each. SK Arts Permanent Collection. Foreground: In Memory. Books. 2022. A posthumous collaboration. An installation of 18 book works by Clifford Weins. Variable dimensions. Collection of Robin Poitras.

Edward Poitras: Revolution in the Rock Garden

Exhibition at Art Gallery of Swift Current
March 26 – May 24, 2022

Public Reception, Artist Talk and Performance at Art Gallery of Swift Current and Lyric Theatre
April 24 @ 1:00 PM CST

The Art Gallery of Swift Current is pleased to present the exhibition, Edward Poitras: Revolution in the Rock Garden, a retrospective survey of the compelling political, spiritual, and provocative work of Saskatchewan, Métis artist Edward Poitras. The work included was created over the course of his highly respected four-decade artistic career. Poitras envisions this exhibition project as a series of “Treaty Four Art Actions”, which will play out in four acts or parts at four different locations. Venues within Treaty Four include Art Gallery of Swift Current, Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, Godfrey Dean Art Gallery, Yorkton and Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre, Medicine Hat. These “art actions” will involve Poitras in collaboration with gallery curators, revisiting and re-contextualizing his past works, as well as including new works which address the colonial history and impact of Treaty Four.

Mistaseni. Wooden chair, wool, horn, electrical cord, plywood, sandpaper, wood, wire, whitewash, paint, adhesive, vinyl, glue, wax paper, electrical fittings, light bulb. 2001-2002. Variable dimensions. SK Arts Permanent Collection.

The work presented spans the course of Poitras’ career from the late 1970s to the present, being derived from public and private collections across Canada, as well as from the artist’s personal collection. These four exhibitions feature installation works, video, painting, photography, performance and sculpture, reflecting the diversity of Poitras’ long-standing practice in visual and performance art. Poitras’ work consistently engages visually and conceptually with issues pertaining to the Treaties, colonialism, post-colonialism, cultural identity and place, spirituality, language loss, storytelling, and the rewriting of history, as well as reflecting on processes towards Truth and Reconciliation. This series of survey exhibitions explores the conceptual basis and evolution of Poitras’ practice, its historical position within postmodern and postcolonial art in Canada and its contributions to Indigenous contemporary art.

Rez Girls. Transparency photo print and book pages in frames on shelf. 15 x 10 cm (each image). 1998. Dimensions variable. Collection of the University of Saskatchewan.

Over four decades in Canada, many Indigenous artists have challenged prevailing notions of a master narrative in the historical development of this country. Edward Poitras has been, and continues to be, in the forefront of this.[1] As a Métis artist, living on George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, from a Métis (French/Cree) father and a Saulteaux mother, and who belongs to a distinctive third culture, Poitras’ work blends the strategies, iconographies and formal vocabularies of European art with those of Indigenous art, spirituality and culture. He is known for mixing the usage of natural materials, such as feathers, hide, horsehair, and bones, with industrial or electronic materials and discarded technology, such as circuit boards. Uniting these materials for Poitras is like “restoring life” and expressing his own identity. The invention, rearrangement and negotiation of identities are central concerns in Poitras’ artistic practice.

Background: Offensive/Defensive. Photographic diptych, lead. 1988. 113.00 x 159.40 cm each (photographs). Lead, variable dimensions. SK Arts Permanent Collection. Foreground: Offensive/Defensive (Lead Type). Lead. 1988. Variable dimensions. SK Arts Permanent Collection.

[1] Lee-Ann Martin, “Edward Poitras: Being in His Own Time”, The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2002 (Canada Council for the Arts, 2002), p. 29.

Exhibition and tour organized by Jennifer McRorie, Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Swift Current, Godfrey Dean Art Gallery, and Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre in partnership with New Dance Horizons.

Art Gallery of Swift Current

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