Blake Randolph Debassige | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Blake Randolph Debassige

Blake Randolph Debassige, artist (born at West Bay, Ontario 22 June 1956).

Blake Randolph Debassige, artist (born at West Bay, Ontario 22 June 1956). A leading member of the "second generation" of Ojibwa artists influenced by Norval Morrisseau, Debassige has broadened the stylistic and thematic range of this group. These artists are often referred to as the "Woodlands School," although Debassige himself objects to the term because it has tended to present the group as a homogeneous movement rather than a collection of individuals who have worked with common purpose but in artistically diverse ways. Perhaps more than any other member of the group, Debassige has succeeded in fusing graphic practices previously expressed in such traditional Indigenous media as rock art and birch bark incising with Western traditions of figurations and with modernist pictorial space.

Debassige's paintings and graphics frequently investigate traditional Anishabek teachings about the nature of cosmic order, the cycles of the seasons, the interdependence of animal, plant and human life and the common principles at work in the world's great spiritual systems. He frequently relates these themes to highly contemporary problems such as the destruction of the environment, the alienation of native youth and family breakdown.

Debassige married the Cree painter Shirley CheeChoo in 1978.

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