October 25th - November 29, 2008
Wally Dion is a member of the Yellow Quill First Nation (Salteaux) who probes issues of First Nations identity. His art has typically consisted of large-scale painted portraiture, often addressing First Nations class struggles in modern Canadian life, particularly in his home province of Saskatchewan.
The large-scale panel paintings that comprise this grunt exhibition adopt social realist aesthetic tropes, directly referencing the propaganda posters of the Chinese Revolution and the iconography of the Soviet Proletariat. Through this knowing appropriation of form, the artist is able to speak to the effacement of First Nations contributions to the building and definition of Canada and Canadian cultural identity.
Utilizing a collapsed stylistic paradigm within global capitalism, the Red Worker series dynamically explores the contentious arenas of institutional history, memory, racism, class struggle, pride and identity. In doing so, these works are able to reveal and question how representational practices can both open and close such complex and ongoing social dialogues.
Wally Dion was born in 1976 and graduated in 2004 from the University of Saskatchewan's BFA program. As a commissioned portrait artist, he received Grants from the Saskatchewan Arts Board and has also been awarded Canada Council support. He has been in numerous group exhibitions and had his first solo show this past summer at the Mackenize Art Gallery in Regina. His work is also part of public collections including those of the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canada Council Art Bank and the MacKenzie Art Gallery.