Woodland Boogie Woogie, Patel Brown Toronto

Native Art Department International | Woodland Boogie Woogie

September 2 – October 8, 2022
PATEL BROWN GALLERY | 21 WADE AVE


The paintings—vortexes of flat colour and black lines that punctuate and intersect with curvilinear organic geometries—slowly reveal the vestiges of their inspiration: the forms of the widely recognizable Woodland School of art, also known as Legend painting, founded by the Anishinaabe artists Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, and Carl Ray, among others. The colour palette and stylistic motifs of the Woodland School, such as the thick black outlines of human and animal kin figures, cells of x-rayed interiors, interconnecting spirit lines, and split circular megis (cowrie shell) forms, have been submitted to a collaborative painting process in which Hupfield and Lujan reconfigure the inspirational colors and forms through a series of abstracting processes in order to focus on the essential elements of the style. The subsequent designs were painted in tandem, each artist taking turns to execute the paintings in a choreographed arrangement as their individual approaches to and histories with painting brought together their distinct strengths and aesthetic interest.

-Excerpt from exhibition text by Christopher Green

Native Art Department International (NADI) is a collaborative long-term project created and administered by Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan that began in Brooklyn in 2016 and is now based in Toronto. NADI seeks to circumvent easy categorization by comprising a diverse range of undertakings such as unannounced actions, curatorial projects, video screenings, paintings, collective art making, and mixed-use installations. All activities contain an undercurrent of cooperation and non-competition while at the same time functioning as emancipation from essentialism and identity-based artwork.

Christopher Green is a New York-area based writer and art historian. He currently serves as Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History at Swarthmore College.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s