Tashina Makokis

In our most recent show, Edmonton-based artist Tashina Makokis sets up a visual call-and-response between two very different kinds of paintings.


Tashina Makokis, The Cancer Paintings 2016-17

On the gallery’s east wall are brightly coloured portraits of familiar figures from Canadian history. Nellie McClung, George Simpson, Emily Murphy, Frank Oliver, John A McDonald, and Duncan Campbell Scott each pose sedately and calmly. Makokis’s painting is bright and bold; she represents the faces of their figures (oh, the eyes!) in captivating ways. But each of these portraits is disrupted by disconcerting blobs, tentacles, cancerous growths around the face. These scratchy patches, which are made from paint mixed with pumice, rise up from the canvases; they threaten to take over the faces of these so-called “great Canadians.” Makokis challenges their greatness and, instead, draws our attention toward the roles that these and so many celebrated historical figures have played in the reproduction of colonial settler violence.


Tashina Makokis, 2017

The west and north walls of the gallery hold three large landscape paintings, each representing not the land but the artist’s nude body. These erotic landscapes are set against ugly portraits in ways that call attention to the dynamic of a colonial gaze. These are celebratory paintings that insist upon the reclamation of indigenous bodies and lives.

Tashina Makokis is a nehiyaw iskwew from Saddle Lake Cree Nation. Her work in the gallery has been featured in an article in Canadian Art, and in this short film produced by Cree/Metis filmmaker and producer Coty Savard.


Nellie McClung 2017



Duncan Campbell Scott, 2017 (detail)

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In the slideshow: Tashina with a copy of Billy Ray Belcourt’s essay “Settler Structures of Bad Feeling,” in Canadian Art; Coty Savard with her crew in the gallery interviewing gallery director and curator Michelle Meagher; Michelle and Tashina fooling around in the gallery.

Buy prints of works from the Cancer Series here 


One thought on “Tashina Makokis

  1. I find it sad, that although our historical figures did what they did and no one is perfect, you have to go and put hatred into your depictions of such leaders defacing them as you do. As a white man I think the Indian and Metis have long suffered under previous thinking. But then people have been conquered and overtaken since the dawn of humankind. As a Winnipeg lawyer who is Mohawk once said : My people need to get over the past and pull themselves up and get on with life. I have met a few who did and they were hard workers too.


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