Robert Houle’s work has indelibly shaped the discourse and practice of Aboriginal and Western art histories, in Canada and internationally. Houle’s work is characterized by aesthetic restraint, intellectual rigour, and deep empathy.
Working from his knowledge of Anishinaabe conventions of abstraction embedded in such arts as quillwork, and from his research into Western art history, Houle has forged a new, and distinctly Indigenous, visual language, informed by complex currents of Aboriginal traditionalism, European realism, and American modernism, and shaped by autobiography, historical events, and contemporary politics. Houle has written that his recent major installation, Paris/Ojibwa, represents “Anishinaabe history, which speaks of healing from the ravenous gaze of pending disappearance.” For forty years, and with great courage and dignity, Robert Houle has eloquently articulated that history.
– Barry Ace, visual artist (Odawa) and Sandra Dyck, Director, Carleton University Art Gallery (nominators)