Exhibition: Tweed Museum Of Art

Photo, Tweed Museum

Photo, Tweed Museum

From Dreams May We Learn
Paintings and Drawings by Rabbett Before Horses

For Immediate Release
WHAT: From Dreams May We Learn: Paintings and Drawings by Rabbett Before Horses
WHERE: Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth
WHEN: November 20, 2007 – February 24, 2008

Special Event: Tuesday, November 20, 6pm
Opening reception and Gallery Talk

The Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth, is proud to present a major exhibition of the paintings of Rabbet Before Horses, a masterful figurative painter whose works narrate elements of Ojibwe mythology and creation stories, seen through the lens of the artist’s dreams. The exhibition is scheduled for November 20, 2007 – February 24, 2008, and will consist of 6-8 mural sized paintings and 10-12 smaller-scale paintings and drawings.

Our collective desire is to reconcile the unknown with understanding. It is through story that we maneuver ourselves through an essentially mysterious world. Ideas that arise in the space between the telling and one’s receiving, amid words and silences, transform in accordance to rules free of gravity. Perhaps, that is why we can fly while dreaming. We are carried into an ephemeral and cohering realm, where suggestion lives free of conventional physics and the perception by linear time. In this realm as well, we are just as subject to fear as to freedom, to death as to hope. I suppose that’s why it is important to have good storytellers, good spirit guides.

In Rabbett Before Horses’ paintings we are witness to an ideological handshake between the artist and his classical and modern predecessors that stretch, at least, from the archaic Greek painter Lydos’ depiction of Dionysus among Satyrs and Maenads, to Francisco Goya’s depiction of dreaming in The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, and beyond. Following in that tradition, Rabbett Before Horses renders highly descriptive visions of what appear to be mythical scenarios onto mural sized canvases populated by creatures, people and some ominous transfused versions of both. The artist’s visual narrative suggests seriality and turns on pictorial storytelling devices. Though pictorially lush, beauty is not intended to be seen at face value. Characters inside these stories have multifarious motivations. After all, Nanabozho is both human and godly, thus suffers from caprice. The elements of these stories, their symbolism and reality coincide — as Greek drama functions — wherein tragedy distinguishes itself from comedy only in so far as the hero may fall. Such storytelling conjoins parallel worlds — that which is, and that which the storyteller envisions. Strickland insists that we see both. The internal logic of the imagery is based on history — fact and legend — that is represented in iconic terms.

Rabbett Before Horses’ panascopic vision is accessible, but calls for some degree of culpability. The stories are overtly bound by a pre-existing out-of-the-frame narrative, a back story, rife with mystical contingencies and unresolved inherited memories of violence.
— Ken Bloom, Director, Tweed Museum of Art: Exhibition Catalog Introduction

Exhibition Catalog: From Dreams May We Learn: Paintings and Drawings by Rabbett Before Horses

Bloom, Ken et al

Duluth, Minnesota: University of Minnesota, 2007. Softcover. Color illus. wraps; 51 pp.; 25 color and bw plates. VG. Item #109368
ISBN: 18889523348

The Tweed Museum of Art published a 52-page illustrated book on Rabbett's paintings, with texts on the paintings by Jean Buffalo, former Tribal Chairperson and Tribal Judge for the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The book's main essay is written by David Treuer, an Ojibwe author from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. The book also contains an introduction and interview by Tweed Museum of Art Director Ken Bloom. The book is available through the museum store and other suppliers.