Monday, January 21, 2019

A Separate Reality: Norval Morrisseau

"The spirit comes through you. It is very creative force, you see. You could be a singer, you could be a writer, you could be an artist, you could be anything if you allow that spirit to flow." ~ Norval Morrisseau

© Perception Films
 ~  Director/producer: Paul Carvalho

This is the story of one of the most celebrated, most original and most notorious artist in Canadian history. Norval Morrisseau, an aboriginal from the Ojibwa tribe, taught himself to draw and paint in the 1950’s so as to give visual expression to his grandfather’s shamanistic dreams. His works received instant national acclaim when first exhibited in Toronto in 1962. But what unfolded was a tragic and sometimes bizarre personal life that mixed intentional homelessness, public alcoholism and even an entanglement with the Mafia. Yet Morrisseau still managed to become the country’s most collected painter, with some 800 canvasses held by public galleries and to invent a painting style, subsequently called the Woodland school that has become an important form of expression for many native artists in North America.

This is the first-ever one-hour documentary about the life of Norval Morrisseau. It has privileged access to Morrisseau’ s adoptive son, Gabor Vadas, to his biological son David Morrisseau and to the artist himself in the final days of his life. The film mixes 1960’s black-and-white footage with romantic, vibrantly-colored recreations and gritty experimental camera work on the streets of Vancouver to create a startlingly intimate portrait of a consummate rebel and an artistic giant who single-handedly attempted to preserve the powerful symbolism of a North American culture Morrisseau calls, with unwavering pride, “The Great Ojibwa.”

The filmmaker discovers that what lies at the root of Morrisseau’s self-destruction is his sexual abuse by priests at a Catholic boarding school in the early 1940’s. Countless other native children suffered similar abuse in other Canadian boarding schools. Morrisseau’s story conveys the extent of the psychological and spiritual damage inflicted by the dominant culture, but he also symbolizes one man’s triumph through the power of visionary art.

Andrei Khabad, Videographer & Photographer



NOTE: This film was screened at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in January 2005, before it aired on CBC-TV's 'Life and Times' on February 24th, 2005.

Friday, January 18, 2019

THIS WEEKEND: "POWER LINES" - Norval Morrisseau Symposium

When: October 19th, 2018 - January 25th, 2019 (Exhibition)
             January 19th - 20th, 2019; 9:00 AM-3:00 PM (Symposium)

Where: WANUSKEWIN GALLERIES, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
               ~Wanuskewin Heritage Park

Photography by Gregory Beatty; © Planet S Magazine

Norval Morrisseau (1931–2007) is arguably the most influential Indigenous artist in Canada, a member of the Indian Group of Seven and the grandfather of the Woodland Art School, he influenced generations of Indigenous artists. In 2006 the National Gallery of Canada held a survey exhibition of Norval Morrisseau’s work, it was the first retrospective held for a contemporary Indigenous artist.

"Thunderbird and Canoe in Flight, Norval on Scooter, 1997" 
Copyright Estate of Norval Morrisseau

Power Lines: The Work of Norval Morrisseau features his work from varying stages of his career, centred on the iconography of Anishinaabe story-telling, of family and how we all connect to lines of power.

Opening Reception was on October 20th, 7-10 pm.
Performance of new work by the Indigenous Poets Society; reciting a response to the work of Norval Morrisseau.

Exhibition runs from October 20, 2018 to January 25, 2019.

SHAMAN AND TURTLE, 72"x48",  © 1980s Norval Morrisseau;
PROVENANCE: Originally acquired by Ilona E. Nagy directly from the artist;
SOLD at SOTHEBY'S on November 28th, 2011 for $71,500 (click

Wanuskewin Galleries thanked and extended its gratitude to Westerkirk Works of Art for the loan of the Norval Morrisseau work and for supporting this exhibition every step of the way. It is through their generosity that they were able to share the work of Morrisseau in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

UNTITLED (Unity,) 4 x 34"x25.5" EA, © 1980s Norval Morrisseau;
SOLD at WADDINGTON'S on January 23rd, 2014 for $36,600 (click HERE)

One of the Symposium
Panelists, Former curator of
the Thunder Bay Art Gallery
(2010-2018); Presently the curator
of the University of Alberta art collection

Organizers are also very grateful for the support of Canada Council for the Arts Creating, Knowing and Sharing Fund which also made this exhibition possible.

Power Lines: A Symposium on the Impact of the Woodland School of Art and the Work of Norval Morrisseau will be held at Wanuskewin Heritage Park on January 19-20, 2019; 9:00 AM-3:00 PM.

This event is to thoughtfully investigate the impact of the Woodland School and the work of Norval Morrisseau. Leading artists, academics and art historians are coming together for one weekend to discuss, critique, relay their expertise, stories and knowledge(s) about the importance of Morrisseau and his impact on Indigenous artists historically and presently. /For more information click HERE/

Source: Wanuskewin Heritage Park @


Thursday, January 17, 2019

One of the Most Important Appraisals of Genuine Norval Morrisseau artworks by the late Mr. Joseph McLeod (1928-2017)

Kevin Hearn Vs. Joseph B. McLeod and Maslak McLeod Gallery Inc.
/Court File No. CV-12-455650/


~ Justice Edward M. Morgan, May 24, 2018

Mr. Gabe Vadas proudly posing in front of "Arrangement of Underworld Spirits, 1980" with Norval Morrisseau and Blair Debassige /The Manitoulin Expositor/ at an eagle feather ceremony held on September 24, 1999 at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (OCF); M'Chigeeng, Ontario. Hanging on the wall the genuine Norval Morrisseau painting "Arrangement of Underworld Spirits, 1980". 

Norval Morrisseau and Gabe Vadas during the ceremony at OFC

/Click on image to Enlarge/


Norval Morrisseau with OCF executive director Paul Nadjiwan
/Click on image to Enlarge/

Gabe Vadas, Norval Morrisseau and Blair Debassige smiling in front of genuine Norval Morrisseau painting at OFC ceremony

/Click on image to Enlarge/ (click HERE for more info)

Norval Morrisseau with a proud owner Josie Schywiola (Collinwood, Ontario) of the genuine Norval Morrisseau painting "Arrangement of Underworld Spirits, 1980" at OFC ceremony /Click on image to Enlarge/

"Arrangement of Underworld Spirits" 54"x68", © 1980 Norval Morrisseau;
Source: Collection of Mr. Rolf Schnieders (1925-2015), Thunder Bay, Ontario; Sold to Mr. Blair Debassige of Nimkee Art Gallery, M'Chigeeng, Ontario by Alan R. Swanson (1947-1998) of Winnipeg, Manitoba  /Click on image to Enlarge/


Ms. Carmen Robertson* noted that Mr. Schnieders was "well-known conduit for Morrisseau's paintings in the Thunder Bay region" and was "actively handling works by the artist since 1960s. He operated small store on May St., in Thunder Bay ON called 'Yesterday's Treasures' for a number of years and this was one way he sold works by Morrisseau." (click HERE **; see Page 14) 

* - Full Professor at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario; Formerly an associate professor of contemporary Aboriginal art history in the Department of Visual Arts, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan; E-mail: also a  Member of the defunct Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society (NMHS)

** - Professor C. Robertson “expert report” on Hearn’s “Spirit Energy of Mother Earth”


The painting "Arrangement of Underworld Spirits" 54"x68", © 1980 Norval Morrisseau was appraised by Mr. Joseph McLeod (1928-2017) of Maslak McLeod Gallery on March 11th, 2008. Mr. McLeod was, at the time of signing, a member of the Art Dealers Association of Canada /Click on image to Enlarge/

Note: Mr. Joseph McLeod gave incorrect title "Spirits Searching Centre" as the writing on the canvas VERSO was obscured for proper reading of the title. The image below shows high resolution signature photo with artwork's title that had been evaluated by Questioned Document Examiner Mr.  Kenneth J. Davies of Calgary, Alberta.

"Arrangement of Underworld Spirits" 54"x68", © 1980 Norval Morrisseau; Source: Private Collection of Mr. Rolf Schnieders (1925-2015), Thunder Bay, Ontario /Click on image to Enlarge to view the signature signed with large letters in black dry brush paint on the canvas VERSO/

* This painting has also be proven to be signed by Norval Morrisseau as per December 19, 2011 Forensic Report by Mr. Kenneth J. Davies of 'Hawkeye Studios (Grapho-Lab® Services)'. (Click HERE for downloadable Report)

Morrisseau presented with eagle feather
Neil Zacharjewicz, The Manitoulin Recorder, published September 29, 1999

M'CHIGEENG - Norval Morrisseau saved the life of Blair Debassige. "He taught me who I am inside," suggested Debassige, artist and resi­dent of the M'Chigeeng First Nation. Morrisseau, the Father of Woodland Indian Art who has been compared to such well-renowned artists as Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall, was presented with aneagle feather by Debassige in a ceremony held at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (OCF) Centre held on September 24, 1999.

The recognizing of a person with an eagle feather, indicated OCF Director Paul Nadjiwan, is one of the highest honors a person can receive. An eagle feather provides a person with an opportuni­ty to speak directly to the spirits, he said, with a straight mind and heart. It conveys a persons thoughts and feelings.

The power of the eagle feather comes from the thunderbirds, the most powerful bird in creation, Nadjiwan explained. According to legend, the thunderbirds gave each eagle four of their feathers, which granted the eagles a part of their pow­ers. The thunderbirds rec­ognize the bearer of an eagle feather as being able to use its powers.

Debassige expressed his appreciation to all who turned out to participate in the ceremony. He said he was very honored to have been able to give an eagle feather to Morrisseau. "He is really something... this man, to me," Debassige stated. Morrisseau indicated his visit to Manitoulin meant a great deal to him. He said he had been planning to visit the area for a long time, as it is a sacred place.

"I thank my brother, (Morrisseau), for visiting, us here," Nadjiwan said. Everyone can appreciate the contributions he has made to native culture through his works: Nadjiwan suggested, particularly in his work based on the myths of creation. Morrisseau planned to continue his visit to Manitoulin until Tuesday of this week.


- "Morrisseau presented with eagle feather"
---/to view an original The Manitoulin Recorder's article click above/


Joseph McLeod (1928-2017) of Maslak McLeod Gallery in front of genuine Norval Morrisseau painting 'Norval Fighting Demon', c. 1970's - Click HERE

Maslak-McLeod Gallery


>>> In a court judgement "Hatfield vs. Artworld of Sherway" /Court File No. SC-09-087264-0000/ Judge Paul J. Martial stated the following about Mr. Joseph McLeod:

“He demonstrated a superior depth of knowledge of Morrisseau…” (Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: March 25th, 2013 - Page 25)

“The testimony of Mr. Joseph McLeod is indicative of his care and the detailed effort to confirm provenance, including the hiring of a forensic expert to examine the signature on the back of the painting indicate that he took his role to provide appraisals seriously. His testimony… demonstrates his depth of knowledge of the painter due to his lengthy association with the artist.”

(Judgment by Judge Paul J Martial: March 25th, 2013 - Page 35)


> An art expert with a comprehensive knowledge of an artist's work who generated adequate consensus within the art community to establish the authenticity of Norval Morrisseau's works of art.

Mr. Joseph McLeod is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts in Canadian 'Woodland Art' and his Maslak McLeod Gallery had built an impressive reputation in the art world for more than 30 years.

He had been a qualified expert witness for the Crown in Federal Court with respect to Norval Morrisseau's art in a pivotal Tax Court of Canada case relevant to cultural property donation program [see Zelinski, Whent, Pustina v. The Queen, (No. 92-424)].

Recently, Mr. Joseph McLeod testified in a pivotal court case relevant to authenticity of Norval Morrisseau artworks [see Hatfield, Margaret Lorraine vs. Child, Donna and Artworld of Sherway].

Mr. McLeod had also been called upon by numerous auction houses such as Sotheby's to help authenticate Norval Morrisseau artworks with his professional expertise.

Mr. McLeod was a member of Art Dealers Association of Canada (ADAC) and had a membership with The Canadian Association of Personal Property Appraisers (CPPA).

>> Mr. Joseph McLeod was instrumental in bringing Canadian Native Art to Germany, Italy, Brazil, Japan, China, France and Puerto Rico.

>>> Affiliations Curatorial and Appraisal Work of Joseph McLeod:

Art Dealers Association of Canada;
Canada Council for Aboriginal Buisness;
The Government of Canada;
Museum of Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay, Ontario CANADA;
Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, U.S.A.;
The Paul R. Macpherson Woodland Collection of Art,
McMaster University Museum, Hamilton, Ontario;
Sotheby' - Master Dealer;
Institute of American Indian Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.;
The Pequot Museum, Conneticut, U.S.A.;
The Heard Museum, Pheonix, Arizona, U.S.A.;
Govenor's Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.;
Volkunder Museum, Munich, GERMANY &
Exposicao de Arte Indigena, Belo Horizonte, BRAZIL.