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Study for Les Castors Du Roi ~ Kent Monkman (Cree)

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The Beavers of the King

Kent Monkman, a Canadian artist with Cree ancestry, grew up in Manitoba where he became painfully aware of the tragic result of Canada's past colonialism, the subsequent racism and the fallout from residential schools. All these issues related to First Nations culture, issues that deeply affected how he viewed the world. This collision of cultures forms the basis for his work.

Monkman's paintings are intense, in both color and subject matter and there is so much going on that every inch requires a thorough vetting. In the end, the viewer will have a deeper understanding but also more questions and there is likely to be some discomfort. In summary, Monkman is an artist who has something to say and he doesn't use cryptic, abstract images up for interpretation. One interviewer called him a "stealth artist." Indeed, his work sneaks up on you as your eyes scan the canvas.

Study for Les Castors Du Roi (The Beavers of the King): “This was a pretty violent period of time. There was a lot of warfare between the varying nations. Everyone was fighting each other, vying for a better position in the fur trade. So the beavers, here being the victims of the fur trade, I wanted to give them human qualities or human characteristics that could speak to the violence that was happening between warring nations.”
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