Norval Morrisseau

Canadian, c. 1931–2007

Astral Plain Scouts, 1976

acrylic on canvas

176 x 137 cm

Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Dr. Louis Cogan



Painting, Canadian Modern (1910-1979)

Norval Morrisseau’s iconography can be traced to Ojibwa shamanic scrolls, rock pictographs, and petroglyphs from the Great Lakes region. Astral Plain Scouts demonstrates Morrisseau’s attempt to use an ancient mystical concept to negotiate truths found in both his traditional Midewiwin religion and Christianity. In the 1960s he was exposed to the Eckankar spiritual movement. Morrisseau found significance in the idea of an astral plane, a transitory realm of existence between earth and the divine, posited by various branches of religious mysticism, through which the soul travels after death and which can be accessed through meditation and dreaming. The notion of using painting to explore spiritual concepts had been popularized by earlier artists like Lawren Harris and Jock Macdonald.

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