Kent Monkman, his Cree-Irish roots and decolonizing art history
Théâtre de cristal. Valencian Museum of Ethnology, temporary exhibition "Beyond Hollywood: american indian identities," 2018.
Renowned Canadian artist, Kent Monkman, describes himself as a “Canadian First Nations artist of Cree and Irish ancestry.” Ireland Park Foundation was lucky to catch a talk by Monkman, hosted by the Ontario Heritage Trust on November 14th, in the Winter Gardens.
Monkman’s unique take on Canadian history exudes a sense of fun and irreverence to authority, of which his Irish ancestors would be proud. Drawing on themes of sexuality, masculinity and the representation of historical attitudes towards First Nations culture, Monkman uses the painting techniques of the old Canadian masters to poke fun at the underlying ideology of those early colonizers, as he sees it.
To emulate Oscar Wilde’s wonderful quotation, “all art is quite useless,” Monkman uses serious technique and skill to undermine the solemnity of the great landscape painters of early Canada. In doing so, he asks probing questions of today’s society, one important one being whether we have come as far as we would like to believe.