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Contemporary Art | Robert Davidson

Davidson_supernaturaleye

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Supernatural Eye 2008

Technique: epoxy powder-coated aluminum, ed. 14/26

Dimensions: 17 x 14 x 4 in.

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Illustrated: Ian M. Thom, Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast, 2009, p. 28

Provenance: Kinsman Robinson Gallery, Toronto


Robert Davidson’s sculptural career started when he was a young teenager, carving masks and other traditional Haida works with his father. Later he also worked in copper and bronze, creating objects such as masks and jewellery. Following his 2004 travelling exhibition “The Abstract Edge,” he began experimenting with aluminum and epoxy.

His process for creating these works is exhaustive; he begins with a drawing and then creates a series of paper maquettes before developing a small version of the sculpture with a professional metal worker. For Supernatural Eye, Davidson experimented extensively to create the final artwork. He tried different versions of a painted surface but concluded that the form worked better in bare aluminum.

The work illustrates the eye of a supernatural creature, presented in traditional Haida shapes (the ovoid, U-form, and tri-neg). The abstracted form, according to Davidson, represents one of the supernatural beings that resides in Haida Gwaii, but does not refer to a specific story or legend. The work functions as a purely sculptural object; it’s success does not depend on the understanding of its meaning.

A larger version of this work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, also titled Supernatural Eye.

About the Artist

Robert Davidson is one of the most decorated Canadian artists today. He has received such prestigious awards as the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, and was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

He was born in Hydaburg, Alaska in 1946, and was raised in the village of Masset on Haida Gwaii. From childhood, he was a natural and gifted designer, learning traditional Haida form from his father and grandfather. After completing high school he embarked on a full-time career as a Northwest Coast artist. The scope of his work has spanned all traditional materials and scale. He is at ease with graphics, precious metals, argillite, and wood. His later work has also included works in aluminum and bronze. He currently works in White Rock, BC and Massett on Haida Gwaii.

Davidson has participated in many solo exhibitions including "Eagle of the Dawn," a comprehensive survey of Davidson's work at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1993, and "The Abstract Edge," a traveling exhibition originating at UBC'S Museum of Anthropology in 2004.


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