PAUL LAPOINTE, Return to Earth
Hand Wave Gallery, Meacham, SK
July 4 to August 15, 2008
By Amber Bowerman
To hear Paul Lapointe describe it, he lives on the doorstep of the world’s best art supply store. His home in Batoche, Saskatchewan — where Louis Riel was defeated in 1885 — backs onto rolling parkland and provides him easy access to the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. It’s here the artist finds many of his supplies, from coarse bison hair to delicate hornet’s nests and ancient wood. Though his repertoire has grown over four decades to include wood etchings and sculpture, Lapointe’s roots are in painting. When he married in 1969 he told his bride he’d give up painting in five years if he wasn’t making money. “I’m not making money, but I’m still painting,” he says. Return to Earth focuses on sculptures made from natural materials gathered on daily walks. “Since I walk the Earth a lot I wanted to play with those materials,” he says. Sounding every bit the reverent outdoorsman, Lapointe tells of Aboriginal pictograms painted onto rock using natural pigments in northern Saskatchewan. Christian missionaries who considered the images pagan once covered them with paint. The paint faded but the ancient art below was indelible, and that, says Lapointe — a self-described Luddite — is proof that everything we can do, nature can do better.
“The structure had gone through many different uses,” he says. “It started as a monastery, then became a prison, then it was used as a school and now it’s been donated to a local fine arts school.” Campbell says his art practice investigates the inherent properties of the photograph and its relation to the viewer, as well as landscape as a component of societal identity. “I’m taking these images and re-purposing them for the context of an exhibition and my own artistic intent. There’s also the appropriation of (these images of Islamic architecture) in Vancouver. And within the context of Vancouver itself, I’m juxtaposing images of an old space that is currently in a state of disrepair versus Vancouver, where many structures are new, modern and clean.”
Represented by: Hand Wave Gallery, Meacham, SK; Avens Gallery, Canmore, AB