Alex Janvier

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 Alex was uprooted from his home and sent to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta, Canada. 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. Alex credits his private tutoring in the summer of 1950, from Carlo Altenberg, with teaching him important artistic basics in respect to draftsmanship, dynamics of positive and negative spatial relationships and mastery of color. Unlike many aboriginal artists of his time, Janvier received formal art training from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, Canada, and graduated with honors 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. A March 2010 exhibition “I Love My Line” eloquently sums up, in Alex’s own words, a lifetime of Original Works of Art with his fine flowing lines. Commonly referred to as “Signature Style” these paintings are only recognizable as ‘a Janvier’. Many of his masterpieces involve an eloquent blend of both abstract and representational images with bright, often symbolic colors. 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 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, Alex Janvier was selected to represent Canada in a Canadian/Chinese Cultural Exchange in 1985. When he returned home Alex was inspired by the beautiful gardens in Beijing to create “Liyan Gardens”. Although he has completed several murals nationally, Janvier speaks of the 450 meter squared dome entitled “Morning Star” at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, as a major highlight in his career. Another very significant commission “Beaver Hills”, painted in 1975, is at Strathcona County Hall, Sherwood Park, Alberta. Alex is honoured to be creating a new mural for the Library Balconies in the upcoming Community Center in 2010; it will be adjacent to the Strathcona County Hall. Alex Janvier’s first mural was painted at the Indian Pavilion at Expo 1967. In January 2004, one of Janvier’s original paintings was displayed in Paris, France at the Canadian Forum on Cultural Enterprise.

In recognition of his success, in 2008 Alex

Janvier received two honorary Doctorates of Laws from Canadian Universities, was presented the Governor General’s Award of Visual and Media Arts, and was awarded the Marion Nicoll Visual Arts Award. Alex is a recognized member of both the Order of Canada and the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts. He has also earned three prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, the Tribal Chiefs Institute, and Cold Lake First Nations. In 2010 Alex will be invested into the Alberta Order of Excellence, the highest provincial honour for Alberta.

Janvier’s passion and natural talent for creative expression remains strong to this day. In 2003, the Janvier family opened a gallery in the City of Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada and was launched in 2004. Although Alex is known internationally as an artist and muralist, he has a very humble approach to life. He is grateful to be able to paint full time for it is what he loves to do. His paintings are full of culturally significant themes and history, sometimes recording the pristine beauty of our Mother Earth. The magnitude of spirituality in his paintings will keep his art alive for centuries to come.

Born on 1935 in Le Geoff Reserve, Cold Lake First Nations, AB. Nationality is Dene Suline/Saulteaux

Alex Janvier artwork 'LIFE SERIES - MOTHER BIRTH  1995' available at Canada House Gallery - Banff, Alberta
30 X 23 in.
Alex Janvier artwork 'RED CHANGE  1995' available at Canada House Gallery - Banff, Alberta
30 X 23 in.
Alex Janvier artwork 'SPACE TRAVEL  1998' available at Canada House Gallery - Banff, Alberta
30 X 23 in.
Alex Janvier artwork 'LITTLE GRAVE  1995' available at Canada House Gallery - Banff, Alberta
23 X 30 in.
Alex Janvier artwork 'RED FLOW  1995' available at Canada House Gallery - Banff, Alberta
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