Robert Davidson – Curator’s Choice Fall 2022

ART AS LANGUAGE In the vibrant language of Pacific Northwest Coast art, Robert Davidson RCA is renowned as a distinguished storyteller. The importance of oral traditions to the Haida people and their culture is evident in Robert’s use of lore and myth throughout the many mediums he has gifted to the world.

As Robert states, “Art was one with our culture…Art is our visual language”.

In the revitalization of Haida culture, he has played an integral role through his many pursuits as a master artisan; in the lusciousness of his painted forms, his brilliant carvings and castings, and in his soft-spoken wisdom.

When Robert received the name Guud San Glans (Eagle of the Dawn) in 1969, that same year he raised the Bear Mother totem pole. This momentous occasion sent shock waves throughout the community marking it as the first totem pole to be raised in 100 years. This event demonstrated the significance and versatility of art as language, culture, and activism.

Since the raising of Bear Mother, Robert has ushered in an age of renewed spirit into the Indigenous art movement on the west coast. During this time, he has mentored and inspired countless artists throughout the generations which is evident in gallery and museum collections globally.

Through his own personal artistic incorporation of supernatural and natural forms, Robert continues to breathe life into the traditional beliefs that for time immemorial have surrounded the people of Haida Gwaii.

In this manner, Davidson demonstrates and tells how, “art helped to keep our spirit alive”.

These teachings are captured in a beautiful book recently published on Davidson’s works – Echoes of the Supernatural: The Graphic Art of Robert Davidson.

For posterity, Robert envisions a world where the homes of the Pacific Northwest peoples never lay barren of their artwork, or their voices, again.

You can experience Robert’s astonishing collection in a new exhibition “Guud San Glans Robert Davidson: A line that bends but does not break” at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which opens on November 26, 2022 to April 16, 2023, please click here.

To view Robert Davidson’s entire collection in our Gallery and for more details, please click here.

Quotes reference: Echoes of the Supernatural: The Graphic art of Robert Davidson 2022

Top Image credit: Haida Modern Robert Davidson