An all around Vancouver kind of guy

Being here at the CAG during the Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Neo-Native Drawings and Other Works, I’m finding that guests and myself are wondering similar things about the show.  I’ve decided to collect these questions and look into some answers to clear them up.

How do you pronounce the artist’s name?

I wasn’t entirely sure myself. But after pronouncing it, Yuke-whale-up-ton, in front of him, he didn’t seem to mind. I suppose this is right. After saying this out loud a few times I’m sure you’ll find that it’s a far less intimidating name to tackle than you would have thought initially.

What is Neo-Native art?

Neo-Native is a term that Yuxweluptun uses to describe his style of art. To say simply, his work is a hybrid of modernism and indigenous art. It’s a contemporary form of native art, a departure from traditional aboriginal styles. Yuxweluptun approaches Coast Salish art forms with contemporary issues. An example of is this is his depiction of trees and nature; it deals with the conflicts surrounding B.C.’s rainforest and the treatment or rather mistreatment of the environment. Unlike Northwest Coast traditional style, where wood carvings would be a preliminary form, Yuxweluptun uses a copper sheet to etch the image of a solitary tree. The depictions of faces of people and animals are drawn traditionally, with a strong thick eyebrow providing the base to shape the rest of the face. However, these indigenous faces, as seen in the ovoid portraits, are paired wearing a basketball t-shirt, an oxford shirt or a clerical collar. Yuxweluptun uses his work to document and promote change in contemporary indigenous history and to excell our understanding of cultural identity and presence.

Does the exhibit contain any of his paintings?

No. Yuxweluptun is most notably known for his large scale techni-coloured acrylic paintings. But this exhibit doesn’t have any those works. However, the reason I find this exhibit especially interesting is because it contains lesser known art work, drawings that extend from 1980 to 2009. This is his first ever drawing series. Most peices are made within a grayscale colour palette. These drawings were developed by him as a note to create to his paintings, so they are essentially the preliminary stages of a painting. 

In response to the many people that have expressed to me their relationship to the artist:

This is definately sweet. It’s great to see his daughter’s teacher, neighbour or friend of a friend of a friend drop by. However, it doesn’t seem to really surprise me anymore when guests describe their 1st-2nd-3rd to 8th degree of separation from the artist because he seems to be an all around Vancouver kind of guy. Matter of fact, I’m certain I saw him walking down a Mount Pleasant street the other day. 

These and the responses/questions/comments that I’ve gathered thus far. As soon as more come up I’ll be sure to expand on this. I do want to note that along with all the other things that I discussed earlier this exhibit and his work is especially refreshing because the iconography displayed tells an interesting story but despite its heavily charged nature the images politics are not jarring. The work is aesthetically contained.

The images themselves are quite beautiful, if at least telling.

– Nafisa Kaptownwala

(CAG  volunteer)

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, 'Neo-Native drawings and other works'


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