About the Artist
Of Denesuline and Saulteaux descent, Alexandre Simeon Janvier was born in 1935 on the Le Goff Reserve in Alberta, where he had a traditional upbringing speaking the Dene language. At the age of eight, he became a pupil at the Blue Quills Indian Residential School, where he was encouraged to pursue art.
“My art is truly North American… it has its Indigenous roots. Some of my artwork is healing for myself and for anyone who wants to accept it that way.”
– Alex Janvier
For over 50 years, Janvier has devoted himself to the development of Indigenous art as an artist, activist, educator, and government consultant. Celebrated and honoured on many occasions, in 2002, Janvier received a National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award and he was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2007.
Janvier is a prolific artist. He has produced thousands of paintings and continues to paint in his home and studio in Cold Lake, Alberta
Janvier, Alexandre Simeon. “About the Artist.” Alex Janvier: Modern Indigenous Master. National Gallery of Canada, 7 Mar. 2017. Web. 28 June 2017.
Born of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent in 1935, Alex Janvier was raised in the nurturing care of his family until the age of eight. At this age, the young Janvier was uprooted from his home and sent to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. Although Janvier speaks of having a creative instinct from as far back as he can remember, it was at the residential school that he was given the tools to create his first paintings. Unlike many aboriginal artists of his time, Janvier received formal art training from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary and graduated with honours in 1960. Immediately after graduation, Janvier took up an opportunity to instruct art at the University of Alberta.
While Alex recognizes the artists Wassily Kandinsky (Russian) and Paul Klee (Swiss) as influences, his style is unique. Many of his masterpieces involve an eloquent blend of both abstract and representational images with bright, often symbolic colours. As a First Nations person emerging from a history of oppression and many struggles for cultural empowerment, Janvier paints both the challenges and celebrations that he has encountered in his lifetime. Alex proudly credits the beadwork and birch bark basketry of his mother and other relatives as influencing his art.
As a member of the commonly referred to “Indian Group of Seven”, Janvier is one of the significant pioneering aboriginal artists in Canada, and as such has influenced many generations of aboriginal artists. By virtue of his art, Janvier was selected to represent Canada in a Canadian/Chinese Cultural Exchange in 1985. Although he has completed several murals nationally, Janvier speaks of the 450 meter squared masterpiece entitled “Morning Star” at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, as a major highlight in his career. In January 2004, one of Janvier’s works was displayed in Paris, France at the Canadian Forum on Cultural Enterprise. In recognition of his success, Alex Janvier recently received three prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, The Tribal Chiefs Institute, and Cold Lake First Nations. Janvier’s passion and natural talents for creative expression remains strong to this day.
In 2012 the new Janvier Gallery opened on Cold Lake First Nations 149B, which is located north of the City of Cold Lake.
Janvier, Alexandre Simeon. “BIOGRAPHY.” Alex Janvier L The Official Website. The Official Website, 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 28 June 2017.
Janvier exhibit to tour Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta.
The Alex Janvier exhibit highlights five decades of the artist`s work and has been on display iince Nov. 10 of 2016. It features more than 75 paintings by Janvier.
“We are delighted to inform you that Alex Janvier has received great acclaim from both the media and our visitors,” reads a letter penned by the NGC’s director and CEO Marc Mayer to city staff. “The Gallery would like to tour this important retrospective exhibition from May 2017 until September 2018, In order to share it was a wider audience.”
The touring exhibition would be called Alex Janvier – Modern Indigenous Master and would make stops at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina during the summer of 2017, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection north of Toronto during the fall of 2017 and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary during the summer of 2018.
City council voted to extend the loan on the piece, a 1982 mural titled Big Fish Waters and valued at just under $100,000, until the end of the national tour.
Janvier, Alexandre Simeon. “Janvier Exhibit to Tour Country.” Cold Lake Sun. Janvier Exhibit to Tour Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta., 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 28 June 2017.
Alex Janvier, the ‘first Canadian native modernist,’ has created a unique style of modernist abstraction, his own “visual language,” informed by the rich cultural and spiritual traditions and heritage of the Dene in northern Alberta. His abstract style is particularly suited to large-scale works. He makes magic arts and 3d arts.
Alex Janvier signed his paintings with his Treaty Number from 1966 to 1977 to protest government policies against Aboriginal people.
In 1993 a large abstract painting by Janvier, Morning Star, was installed at the river end of the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of History, where a seven story high dome rises above the granite floor. Janvier created the painting with the assistance of his son Dean, between June and September. Janvier titled the work Morning Star in reference to the star’s use as a direction-finder. He planned the four areas of colour in the outside ring to represent periods in Native history: yellow, for early history in harmony with nature; blue, for the changes brought about by contact with European civilization; red, for revival and optimism; and white for reconciliation and a return to harmony
Janvier, Alexandre Simeon. “Alex Janvier.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 June 2017.
Alex Janvier’s early years
Alex Janvier A Native Canadian Artist and Member of The Indian Group of Seven
Alex Janvier, TRU artist residency
Alex Janvier in his gallery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6rQNGUL4us