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Bruno Canadien | Artist of the Month | December 2023



Bruno Canadien is a Visual Artist whose multidisciplinary practice investigates Indigenous presence, kinship, and relationality in the contemporary colonial context, through painting, drawing, installation and walking. Bruno’s work has been included in national exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Biennale d’Art Contemporain Autochtone in Montreal. His paintings can be found in private and public collections, including Glenbow Museum, Global Affairs Canada, the Indigenous Art Centre, and Nickle Galleries.


Bruno Canadien is a member of the Deh Gah Got’ı́é Dene First Nation of Zhati Kǫ́ę́, Denendeh, a Deh Cho Region member of the Dene Nation. He is currently based in Black Diamond, Alberta, gratefully grounding himself in the landscapes and traditional territories of the Siksikaitsitapi, Tsuut’ina and Îethka Nakoda Wîcastabi nations.


Art Descriptions


Flicker 

14 x 8 ft mural in the Cultural Services Building, Red Deer.

Neetseni, or the Northern Flicker, is a distinctive bird of the open woods and river valleys of North America. Central Alberta is the northern limit of its’ winter range, so the flicker can be found in Red Deer year-round. Its’ early spring calls resonate throughout the valleys, activating the leafless stands of poplar and promising renewal and warmth. In flight it flashes bright red, orange or yellow underwings and tailfeathers, but otherwise is often inconspicuous in the colours of the winter woods. Here, this perched individual sits high on a branch, contrasting with the bright colours of early summer manifested in a pair of wild rose designs. The roses are based on my Grandmother Madeline’s beaded moccasin designs, adapted for this painting to represent walks through Neetseni’s landscapes. Bright colours, brush marks, drips and layers contribute to this piece’s vibrancy. It’s my hope this mural will lift peoples’ spirits and inspire the building residents to listen for the wild calls of the flicker in late March, or to think of walks after work in the warmth of a summer evening.


Rita Therese

2020

Acrylic and satin ribbon on canvas

100 x 40 x 1.5 in.

Strathcona County Collection.

Rita Therese (2020), named for my mother, is one of a suite of paintings informally called the Grandmothers, and was made for the Mother Tongue/ Ehts’o Ket’a group of works. The original impetus for this work came in the form of 3 pairs of beaded moccasin tops, made by Setsų Héɂı (my Grandmother, deceased) Madeline Canadien, and gifted to me by my Aunt Elsie, with the suggestion that I incorporate them into my practice. As assimilative forces destroyed her ability to communicate verbally with some of her grandchildren, myself included, my grandmother found a way to express her love through sewing and gifting clothing, beadwork, tufting and embroidery. These gifts have come to symbolize my relationship with my grandmother: quiet, beautiful, tangible. Expanding the symbolism, and without exaggeration, Dene & Metı́s traditional artwork represents our love for family and our love for our land, Denendeh. It is this symbolism as well as Setsų’s designs that are at play in these paintings. 


Additional floral designs by family members are referenced, including Elsie Canadien’s cranberry motif and rosehips in Rita Therese. Our floral designs are inspired by the beauty of the Land’s gifts and are traditionally rendered in land-based materials such as moosehide, caribou hair, porcupine quills and plant dyes. In Rita Therese, other land-based materials, made from petroleum, convey a message about our (and your) present relationship with the Land, and touches upon the mediation and disruption of that relationship through extraction and consumerism. Water mixes with acrylic on the canvas’s surface, pushing bright colours around and drip with the reminder that we need to maintain our essential bonds with the Land and Water. Rita Therese celebrates our continuance and our interconnectedness with the land, rivers, lakes, animals and each other.


Semǫ Héɂı

2021

Acrylic paint on canvas

24 x 24 x 1.5 in.

Collection of the artist.

At its’ foundation, this project memorializes my relatives who have passed on, and celebrates their lives and holds them close in our family’s hearts. Dene floral designs in beadwork and paint by myself and my aunts embellish the paintings in Sóot’ı̨ in an act of care.


Painting the likenesses of my mother and brother in particular, to honour them in this way, has been a hard yet fulfilling and meaningful undertaking. More so than the recent floral paintings which embody abstract cultural concepts linked to and in honour of family, these portraits bring family close and really embody my relatives themselves. To have their images surround me these past few months as we isolate ourselves has been sad, comforting and joyful, and reminds me that I belong to a big family who come from a beautiful country.

-April, 2021.


Hustle + Bustle/ Tłeh Gǫ́lı̨ ~ Rıbbon Mess

2014

acrylic, paper, flagging tape, staples on board

36 x 30 x 2 in.

collection Nickel Galleries

work work work money money money. The Hustle & Bustle paintings occupy the space where southern values & machinery that penetrate & assault northern Indigenous territories are met by the resilience of the People. Petroleum based acrylic paint & survey-tape are co-opted for Indigenous cultural purposes, in the main, the rejection of destruction & the celebration of life. Tłeh Gǫ́lı̨ also references the timing of the signing of Treaty 11, shortly after oil was discovered at Norman Wells in the Dehcho valley.


Check out Bruno on Instagram or on his website!



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