Down and Out - City Living Picture

From the "Halfbreed Mythology" show guide:

As stated by Paul Smith, Aaron Paquette's paintings "illustrate moments of connection and conflict, both individual and communal". Such moments are perfectly expressed in the painting, 'Down and Out - City Living'. In this work Paquette connects with both his cultural heritage and the places, both emotional and physical, he finds himself in.

Paquette's heritage is expressed through the elements of the raven, the Norse snake, and the First Nation's decorative pattern in the foreground of the work.

The "places" the artist finds himself in are also expressed in this painting. Aaron Paquette is an urban-dweller, and in this work the city is symbolised by the light standard and the graffiti wall. How the artist might feel about this place, and the situation faced by many First Nations/Metis peoples in the city, is movingly portrayed by the raven. Slumped in the foreground of the work, the raven is physically distanced from the symbols representing the city. The use of the complementary colours of orange and blue to separate these elements reinforces this physical distance and may reflect emotional dislocation as well. At present there are approximately 3000 homeless people in Edmonton alone, many of whom are of First Nations heritage. The figure of the raven, normally a powerful First Nations symbol, here sitting bedraggled and smoking a cigarette, functions as an evocative statement on this disturbing situation.

-thanks to Shane Golby
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Down and Out - City Living
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