"Spirit of the North West"


In this large triptych Hodnett depicts elements of Pacific North West coastal native culture in a desolate estuarine landscape facing the sea. The sky is typical of the late afternoon in this particular region of British Columbia. Without appropriating any aspect of First Nations art as his own, Hodnett has used these elements to create a work that pays homage to the spirituality of the Pacific North West. 

The left panel shows a wild Sockeye salmon in spawning colours projecting "energy rays". The totem in the foreground is receiving the energy from the fish and passing them on to the house frame in the central panel. In the background of this panel is a native village.

The central panel is dominated by a Southern Kwagiutl carved house frame receiving energy from the salmon. (This house frame was originally located at Quattishe, a Koskimo village on Quatsino Sound. The frame is now on display in the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver B.C. The artist has deliberately altered the proportions of the frame to emphasize the monumentality of the structure.) In the background are three elements eluding to the connection of the sky and land spirits as well as the present and the past. The bird on the pole (center), the wind stocking (left) and the pole with a loudspeaker and TV camera (right).

The right panel depicts a array of brightly festooned totem poles receiving the energy rays from the house frame in the central panel. The bright sun-lit sky and the fishing boats suggest hope and rebirth. 

The size of the painting was dictated by stretcher frames that belonged to the late Canadian painter Jack Shadbolt which were given to the artist by his widow Doris Shadbold. The canvases were later re-stretched on modern stretcher frames. The painting was first exhibited at the Ballard Lederer Gallery  in June 2003 and again at the Buschlen Mowatt Gallery in Vancouver, B.C.

The work now hangs in the John Lefebvre Collection.

The triptych is signed lower right on the right panel . 

Size:  450 cm. x 123 cm. / 177 in. x 48.5 in.  

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  Copyright Noel Hodnett - All rights reserved.