Bob Boyer, Lone Elk, Gerald Red Elk We Miss You, 1985, oil over acrylic on cotton, 151 x 196 cm. Collection of Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Purchased with the assistance of The Walter and Duncan L. Gordon Charitable Foundation Family, 1968.
(Born 1948, Prince Albert Saskatchewan – Died 2004, Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
As a Métis artist, Bob Boyer’s painting bears the mark of a dual cultural perspective, one that alternates between the Plains Indian imagery of his Native heritage and the European tradition that provides him with the vocabulary of abstraction. Boyer’s work has been informed by colour field painting, specifically by the non-representational and experimental work of the Regina Five group in the 1960’s. His first works were painterly, semi-abstract depictions of ceremonial and everyday objects used by Native People, borrowing design elements of traditional hide paintings and beadwork.
Boyer has used a variety of media throughout his career, although he is probably best known for his blanket paintings. In the 1980’s he replaced the traditional canvas surface with that of a blanket, addressing the political issues of Native History in Canada, painting scenes alluding to injustice, betrayals, defeats, and environmental destruction. By the mid-1990’s Boyer had shifted his focus, choosing instead to encourage the perpetuation and celebration of Native culture. He believes that the time has come for Native people to look beyond the conflicts imposed by Western culture