The Triumph of Mischief—which originated as a collaborative project between the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and is currently on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery—features paintings and multimedia works from the last five years.
“The whole document of art history was essentially a whitewashing of the genocide and displacement of many nations of people,” says the 42-year-old Monkman, who has been based in Toronto since 1982. “In my work, I’m constantly investigating and researching, finding information to take back to the art and to insert narratives that were never painted.” Within their ornate gilded frames, these tragicomic encounters between First Nations people, Mounties, explorers, cowboys and Wild West showmen are funny, sexed-up and seriously subversive.
Tonto Takes Charge
Miss Chief Eagle Testickle: a portrait.
“The reason I respond to these artists is because I think their work is important. It’s worth examining that whole period of art, so purely one-sided, like a big cover-up of what was really happening. I try to approach it with humour, focusing on the side of art culture that is about survival and being able to adapt, and to look forward. It’s a very gentle way of making people aware of this huge obliteration of our narratives. Bringing together these different ways of seeing and recording history in one painting makes you aware of how you can interpret it through the images that you create.