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Leonard Paul: The Shape Shifter, Kluskap Playing
The Shape Shifter, Kluskap Playing 2005
In her catalogue essay for Legend Drawings, Moira Diane O’Neill says of Leonard Paul’s practice that it has celebrated the everyday life of the human and animal inhabitants of his world, and the regular cycle of decay and rebirth revealed in pastoral rivers and wilderness landscapes. With the Legend Drawings he shifts his field of vision from the world of actuality to the timeless world of Mi’kmaq legends and stories
The Legend Drawings provide glimpses into the mythic world occupied by Kluskap, the creator of Mi’kma’ki, who battled the creatures that threatened the Mi’kmaq and taught people to live in harmony with nature. These giants, ogres, and werewolves recall like creatures that sprang from Francisco Goya’s fevered imagination, and give face and form to the bogeymen who represent the fear and anxiety that legends the world over use to scare, then lull, through mockery, says O’Neill. His lighthearted and personal interpretations of this legend in Malsum, the Brother of Kluskap and The Shape Shifter, Kluskap Playing, show the influence of graphic illustration. Both characters are represented with anatomy that is reminiscent of comic book heroes. While employing naturalistic detail, reflecting his career as a nature and wildlife painter, Paul has injected pop cultural and personal elements into these legends.
O’Neill continues, Paul’s reputation rests on his superlative control of brush and pencil to represent the tonal values of the natural world in meticulous detail. The particular pen-and-ink medium he has incorporated into his Legend Drawings demands the same painstaking attention — the pointillist or stipple technique requires dots of black ink to build up the image. A single drawing can involve the placement of tens of thousands of such points (or almost a million in the entire suite of drawings)
Leonard Paul studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. He received the Governor General’s medal in 1993, and has work in the collections of National Indian Art Collection, the Nova Scotia Art Bank, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Acadia University.
KB and from Legend Drawings by Leonard Paul by M.D. O’Neill