|Windigo Versus the Cannibal Man by Star Wallowing Bull|
"Mechanistic Renderings," a new show at Bockley Gallery
featuring the work of Star Wallowing Bull, the son of revered Anishinabe artist Frank Big Bear, presents a dynamic body of work showing the artist's transition from drawing to painting. Wallowing Bull's fractured, geometrical, and colorful style is startling in its sharp storytelling and vivid imagery.
|Poker Face by Star Wallowing Bull |
A number of the pieces contain elements of autobiography. Poker Face, for example, portrays a figure made up of geometrical forms and symbols holding a hand of cards. The image of the King of Hearts is woven into the abstracted form, as Wallowing Bull draws inspiration from his grandfather, who was a card player.
Other pieces are both personal and political. Modern Day Indian portrays a Native character sitting on a rock by a garbage bin with his dog, toxic industrial facilities blowing fumes into the air behind him.
Wallowing Bull also pays homage to other acclaimed Native artists. Windigo Versus the Cannibal Man uses elements of Narval Morrisseau's x-ray paintings. The work portrays two figures facing off from the two distinct sides of the canvas. On the one side, there's a tripped-out figure with enormous glowing eyes and an antler head piece and sharp teeth (presumably the Windigo, a half-beast demon from Algonquian mythology). On the other is a scary looking, tongue waving figure staring back. Another piece, titled Tobacco Merchant, gives a hat tip to the revered Anishinabe artist George Morrison.
|Mechanical Chieftan by Star Wallowing Bull |
The works in the exhibition spans about seven years. Painting has been a more recent interest for Wallowing Bull over the past four or five years. You can see the transformation from drawing to painting into his work. The earlier paintings bear a closer resemblance to his drawings, while his more recent paintings take on a life of their own. In some ways, they use a simpler palate; there's a dark background and less things are going on. They're also more sophisticated.
For example, in Mechanical Chieftan Wallowing Bull depicts a chief character as robot, with various mechanical objects making up the figure. It's much simpler than the earlier paintings, but the result is breathtaking. Toxic Seahorse contains a political bent similar to the earlier works, but there's a precision in the way he paints that makes it very exciting.
IF YOU GO:
"Star Wallowing Bull: Mechanistic Renderings"
Through November 30
2123 W. 21st St., Minneapolis
The gallery is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday
2123 W. 21st St., Minneapolis, MN