The lavish display of works by Dempsey Bob comes from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg, near Toronto, and the museum of patron and collector Michael Audain, in Whistler. It was presented last winter in Kleinberg, curated by the chief curator of the McMichael Collection, Sarah Milroy, an art critic who was on the final list of people approached to lead the Museum of Fine Arts. -arts du Canada, and by Curtis Collins, director and chief curator of the Audain Art Museum. MMFA curator Iris Amizlev was responsible for organizing the exhibition in Montreal.
Dempsey Bob was present at the opening. The 75-year-old artist was particularly moved to see several of his works that he had not seen for almost 40 years. “It was hard to get them all together,” he joked. My collectors keep them very close to them! »
Dempsey Bob’s alder wood sculptures have been a subject of genuine fascination since his first solo performance in a Vancouver commercial gallery in 1989. At the opening, American collector George Gund had bought it all! It was a turning point in his career, according to the artist who pays tribute to those close to him for allowing him to create. “Art is important,” he said. It is art that makes us human and civilized. It is the torch of culture which, itself, is the material that allows us to live in society. »
Works from his period 1974-2018 speak to nature, wildlife, legends and the spirituality of his native family. The exhibition is presented chronologically, which makes it possible to become aware of the evolution of his technical, formal and documentary work.
The visitor discovers masks, some of which include elements inspired by European art, as well as objects designed with his sister Linda Bob, such as a cape, a blanket and a chef’s robe. Its quality of representation of humans and animals (eagle, bear, wolf, frog, salmon) is breathtaking. We remain silent in front of the finish of his works, with a touch and colors of great softness.
The wolf holds a large part in the art of Dempsey Bob because the latter belongs to the traditional clan of the Wolf thanks to the maternal link. “The wolf is strong, smart, proud and free,” he says, before paying homage to his grandmother and an artist, Frida Diesing, from whom he learned a lot when he attended her sculpture classes. in Prince Rupert. An artist who taught many now renowned sculptors such as Norman Tait and Don Yeomans.
He also regrets that the merits of Frida Diesing as a sculptor were not recognized because of the fact that she was a woman.
The exhibition, carefully presented in four beautiful rooms, is accompanied by a catalog (in English only), Dempsey Bob In His Own Voice, published by Sarah Milroy, which covers the life and exceptional production in 212 pages. of this outstanding sculptor.