Opening tomorrow, July 4th, Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art presents the Vancouver premiere exhibition of The Art of Dimension.
Running until October 15, 2023, The Art of Dimension is a celebration of Haida metalwork practices, and a powerful artistic affirmation of Indigenous knowledge sharing across generations. The exhibition also features the copper, gold and silver carving artistry of Haida Gwaii’s lauded Skil Xaaw Jesse Brillon, alongside Bill Reid’s own masterful repoussé works. Brillon is widely known for his excellence in specialty precious metals techniques, including repoussé, chasing and lost-wax casting.
“Bill Reid is credited with introducing the European repoussé technique to the art of the Northwest Coast and inspiring and mentoring Indigenous artists in the craft,” says Beth Carter, Associate Curator with the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. “With only a handful of Haida artists working in these techniques, Jesse Brillon has become one of the leading artists practicing repoussé and chasing today. We truly believe these mediums deserve celebration, visibility, and a public platform for their importance in Haida art and culture.”
Growing up as a close family friend to Bill Reid profoundly impacted Brillon’s artwork. His first paid commission at age 18 was painting a Bill Reid original, drawn by the artist in the galley of a seine boat. Brillon cites Reid’s immense body of work in repoussé as a major influence in his own metalwork artistry.
The Art of Dimension further honours the roles of mentorship and family connections through the emerging voice and cedar sculptural works of Brillon’s niece and protégé, award-winning Haida and Cree artist Haay?ingtso Marlo Wylie Brillon, also making her Bill Reid Gallery debut.
The exhibition features 14 recent elaborate repoussé carvings, along with cedar carvings and painted works by Jesse Brillon.
Several modern works by Bill Reid will be showcased to encourage a dialogue between the two artists’ work. Marlo Wylie Brillon’s four featured cedar artworks reflect her close connection to Jesse Brillon, and his important role as a mentor for her artistic development since she was a young child.
Gallery visitors are also offered a rare and personal viewing of special dowry pieces created by Jesse Brillon for the 2022 marriage of his sister, Kalga Jaad Erin Brillon to artist Andy Everson. This was the first clan feast of the Laana Staadas clan in more than 150 years. These pieces include a printed canvas Laana Tsaadas Dance Screen, copper and ermine jihlk’yah (headdress), and a gold repoussé crest pole bracelet with abalone shell inlay. Also featured is Marlo Wylie Brillon’s carved K’aaxada (dogfish shark) mask which was danced at the celebration.
The Art of Dimension premiered at the Haida Gwaii Museum in 2022. Bill Reid Gallery has expanded the original exhibition to include further information about Bill Reid’s artistic influence on Jesse Brillon, a deeper exploration of the history of Haida metalwork, and additional details about the special marriage feast held by the Laana Staadas clan.
The exhibition is on display at Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, 639 Hornby Street from July 4 – October 15, 2023. Visit billreidgallery.ca to find admission information and learn more about The Art of Dimension, including its ancillary events and opening celebration, workshops, artists talks, demonstrations and more.