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Gallery Associates, Virtual Event

Sunday Art Lecture: Wolfgang Paalen’s Northwest Passage with Colin Browne

Mar 14 | 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Join us via Zoom for the 2021 Gallery Associates Sunday Art Lecture Series: The Visionary Eye: Surrealism from Europe to North America! Explore how surrealist artists in Europe, Canada, and the United States tried to free the mind from the oppression of rationalism, conformity, and the ordinary in order to experience new ways of seeing.

During the summer of 1939, the artist Wolfgang Paalen, his wife, the poet Alice Rahon, and their companion, Eva Sulzer, a photographer, travelled the length of the Pacific Northwest Coast to study the monumental and ceremonial art of the First Nations in the post-colonial entities of Alaska and British Columbia. Rahon and Paalen were influential members of André Breton’s surréaliste circle in Paris. A year earlier, a surrealist named Kurt Seligmann and his wife Arlette had spent six weeks in Hazelton. While there, he purchased a Nisga’a Tsimshian Nation totem pole, which stands today in the foyer of the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris. Paalen, Alice, and Eva concluded their Northwest Coast journey in Victoria in late August 1939, meeting with Emily Carr, William Newcombe, and G.T. Emmons.

In this talk, we’ll reflect on Paalen’s efforts to develop a contemporary art that would help restore equilibrium to the world, and consider the intersection between surrealism and Northwest Coast Cultures including Tlingit, Haida, Ts’msyan, and Pentlatch communities, Coast Salish Hul’qumi’num-speaking peoples, Snuneymuxw and Cowichan, and Lekwungen speaking peoples, Esquimalt and Songhees Nations.




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