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Donald Ellis Gallery at Frieze

Bent-corner Chest, Haisla Tsimshian

Bent-Corner Chest, Haisla or Coast Tsimshian
Ca. 1840-1860
Red cedar, red turban snail opercula
71.12 cm x 48.26 cm x 43.82 cm

Donald Ellis Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in the second edition of Frieze Viewing Room, a digital platform hosting both Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2020. Frieze Viewing Room will be live October 9–16, 2020, with an invitation-only preview October 7–8.

For this year’s edition of Frieze Viewing Room, the gallery will present a selection of rare historical Native American drawings spanning various Indigenous cultures across Canada and the United States.

In the absence of a written language, drawing, with its origins as pictographic images on rock surfaces, acted as a means of transmitting culturally shared belief systems, social values and collective as well as individual histories. In comparison to the Western notion of drawing, intimately linked as it is to the flat surface of paper, the works presented in this exhibition occur on a variety of media, from sculptural works in wood, to paper, hide and muslin. Their forms of expression range from abstraction to figural representation coded by regional differences as much as by gendered conventions.

The gallery is proud to present a curated selection of historical Native American art that showcases the high level of sophistication of these artistic traditions. From the highly conventionalized formline designs of the Northwest Coast to the figurative Ledger art of Plains cultures, from modern Inuit drawing on paper to the memory aids of the southwestern United States, the works in this exhibition relate to a variety of cultural practices. Despite their individual differences, they all share an economy of gesture that grant the works a distinct dynamic quality and provide us a rare glimpse into their maker’s fascinating worlds. 

A Ledger Drawing (see below) attributed to the Southern Cheyenne warrior artist Nah-hi-yurs (aka Carl Matches) was selected by Sir Norman Rosenthal as one of 36 works of art for the fairs newly curated section Forever. This special section will explore the premise that great art is forever, showcasing works that have stood - and in the curator’s mind will stand - the test of time.

In response to the current global health crisis Donald Ellis Gallery will donate 10% of all sales to relief efforts. Purchasers will have their choice in supporting one of the following charitable organizations:

The Center for American Indian Health Navajo & Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief Fund City Meals on Wheels

Pratical Information

October 9-16, 2020
Preview Days:
Wednesday, October 7 and Thursday, October 8, 2020

ledger drawing donald ellis

Ledger drawing, attributed to Nah-hi-yurs (aka Carl Matches) (d.1914), Southern Cheyenne, Central Plains
ca. 1875-78
graphite and coloured pencil on lined paper
15.56 × 20.96 cm

ledger drawing Cheyenne

Ledger Drawing, anonymous artist, Cheyenne, Central Plains
Tie Creek Ledger Book (p.192)
Ca. 1870
Ink, graphite and coloured pencil on paper
19.69 × 31.75 cm

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