Haida Manga art at the Glenbow

November 23rd, 2009 by Jill Roberts

Say Haida Manga three times quickly… kinda fun to roll off the tongue, but even more rewarding to see how this remarkable fusion of two far-flung yet complementary styles are invigorating both traditional Haida art and modern Japanese comics.

A giant mural of Michael Yahgulanaas’s graphic novel, Red, pages all torn out and assembled like a totemic puzzle, grips viewers of his Haida Manga exhibit in the Glenbow.

The frames containing the graphic storyline in each page combine, when assembled together, into bold, iconic Haida visages. The amount of planning involved in the work is eclipsed by the effortless and natural combination of minute and grand detail within the piece.

The hardcore discipline of the nearly abstract Haida aesthetic meets playful, kinetic manga like long-lost lovers, swirling together in a colourful, blissful mash-up of culture and epoch.

And these lovers have history. Haida fishermen have long travelled to Japan, crossing the Pacific Ocean in pursuit of fur seals and experiencing an acceptance in that country they did not receive on their native shores.

Resist the intricate drawings long enough to see the rest of the show. You’ve got to love the sheer rock and roll of Yahgulanaas’s high-contrast black-and-copper graphic sweetness on car hoods. Two video installations, plus lots of sketches and prints, round out the exhibit. See it on the 2nd floor of the Glenbow until January 24, 2010.

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