Alex Janvier

About Alex Janvier

As a member of the commonly referred to “Indian Group of Seven”, Janvier is one of the significant pioneering aboriginal artists in Canada. Born of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent in 1935, Alex Janvier was sent to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta at the age of eight. Although Janvier speaks of having a creative instinct from as far back as he can remember it was at the residential school that he was given the tools to create his first paintings. His works involve unique style of modernist abstraction informed by the rich cultural and spiritual traditions and heritage of the Dene in northern Alberta; they incorporate abstract and representational images with bright, often symbolic colours. Janvier received formal art training at the Alberta College of Art, Calgary and graduated with honours in 1960. Immediately after graduation, Janvier took up an opportunity to instruct art at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. In 1966, the Canada’s Federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs commissioned him to produce 80 paintings for Expo 67, which, for various reasons, were never exhibited. Instead, he helped bring together a group of artists for a separate “Indians of Canada Pavilion” at Expo 67, among them Norval Morrisseau and Bill Reid. In January 2013, Janvier received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2010, he was named a Member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, and in 2007 he received Member of the Order of Canada.