Montréal, Canada - A major exhibition that explores Haida art and philosophy through the contemporary paintings and sculptures of leading Northwest Coast artist, Robert Davidson, opens this spring at the McCord Museum in Montréal. This traveling exhibition, produced by the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and circulated by the National Gallery of Canada opens May 27 and run until October 15, 2006.

Robert Davidson Killer WhaleFrequently associated with monumental cedar totem poles, Haida art is celebrated for its powerful motifs, distinctive use of color and elaborate compositions, both representational and abstract. Robert Davidson defines abstraction as “challenging our minds to go beyond what we can recognize,” and his first exhibition in ten years endeavors to illustrate how he has faced this challenge. Robert Davidson: The Abstract Edge largely features recent works that comprise paintings on canvas, paper and deerskin drums; sculptures and low-relief carvings in cedar; and two new aluminum sculptures.

The idea of the abstract edge has been a point of exploration in Davidson’s work over the last decade. “My passion is reconnecting with my ancestors’ knowledge,” Davidson explains, “The Haida philosophy is what bred the art, and now the art has become the catalyst for us to explore the philosophy.” In his work, Davidson shifts between abstract and representational images, often blurring the boundary between the two, and continually challenges himself to expand his knowledge, “I’m experimenting to see how far I can push my own understanding.”

 Robert Davidson: The Abstract Edge not only considers how the artist engages with ideas of abstraction, it reveals how Haida concepts of form and representation preceded European notions of abstraction and why these concepts are fundamental to contemporary critical discourse. The curator, Karen Duffek explains how the theme for the exhibition evolved, “The edge can also be understood as a place of change where the old and new come together, where a new understanding is developed out of an old one.” “We are delighted and honored to be the first museum in Montréal to feature the art of Robert Davidson,” says the McCord’s Executive Director, Dr Victoria Dickenson. “The works in Robert Davidson: The Abstract Edge are complex and compelling. They challenge our understanding of Aboriginal art – its links to the past and its creative engagement with the future.”

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Pause For Thought

Bacon on an Artist's Job

"The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery."