Portrait of a Medicine Man

Daphne Odjig’s Portrait of a Medicine Man (1972) from a private collection.

A retrospective of the late artist Daphne Odjig is set to open Friday at 6 p.m. at the Kelowna Art Gallery on the week of what would have been her 100th birthday. Odjig is one of Canada’s most celebrated Indigenous painters and printmakers, and has often been referred to as “the grandmother of Canadian Indigenous art."

The Daphne Odjig 100, exhibition includes 12 large-scale paintings that were sourced from local collectors. The pieces were selected to illustrate different periods in the artist’s career. Visitors will be able to trace the life and times of the artist as she went from experiencing the challenges of being an Indigenous person in a time of systemic oppression in Canada, to becoming a celebrated artist and national treasure, sure of herself and her artistic voice.

In her earlier works, such as Nanabozo and the Hoot Owls (1969), People of the Forest (1969), and Nanabush and Windigo (1968), Odjig’s art denoted angst and discomfort.

Odjig’s later works, such as Messengers of Peace (1991), Canopy of Protection (1987), and Tapestry of Time (1987), were serene and subdued in their colour pallettes of blues, greens, icy violets, corals, and various pastels. The characters are interwoven with the background, which can be viewed as portraying a deeper connection to their environment.

The exhibition will run until Jan. 5. Friday’s opening reception is open to Gallery members and guests, by invitation.

The Kelowna Art Gallery is located at 1315 Water Street in downtown Kelowna.