Bob Boyer (1948 - 2004)
Métis artist Bob Boyer was an innovative contemporary artist and a driving force of Canadian contemporary Indigenous artistic expression. Boyer’s work is characterised by a strong formal presence, reflecting his awareness of contemporary trends in western art, combined with the sophisticated integration of the design work of Indigenous peoples. He is best known for his acclaimed series of blanket paintings.
The Saskatchewan born painter’s first works incorporated the traditional designs of the Northern Cree people, while also revealing his familiarity with the 1960s era experimental work. His earliest paintings drew inspiration from the works of Ted Godwin, member of the Regina Five Group of artists. Between 1983 and 1995, he famously painted on blankets. These politically charged works combine elements of Northern Plains designs with references to the harmful injustices and betrayals of Canadian colonialism and his own personal symbolism. He referred to these pieces as “blanket statements.” Writing in NOW Magazine in 1994, art critic Dierdre Hanna described them as “an in-your-face reminder of the devastation wrought among Canada's First Nations and the kind of virtuoso turn that has earned Boyer a place in most of Canada's public collections.”
A tireless advocate of Indigenous art and artists, Boyer also devoted his life to fostering recognition for the cultural contributions of Indigenous people. At the end of his career, Boyer turned his attention to celebrating contemporary Indigenous culture, participating in dances at powwows throughout North America. His work is included in museum collections across Canada, including the National Gallery, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Canadian Museum of History, Calgary's Glenbow Museum, and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatchewan.