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Bateke Mask (1998-9)
Acrylic on Arches paper (30" x 22.5")
Private collection in Ladysmith, BC

We left the P. R. Congo in 1989 taking very little with us. We had purchased the masks from a Congolese man who came to our home, sang songs for us in Kicongo and even posed for two portraits, one for me and one for him. At that time he was concerned because this generation of youth in his village no longer wanted to learn how to make these masks. I learned later in preparing for a Picasso exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada that Picasso had a mask similar to this one collected in the early 1900s..

The warm, dark wood of the interior of the A-frame cottage on the lake contrasted with the cold, blue-white snow and December sky. Coming back to Canadian winters was just part of the unexpected reverse cultural shock experienced by those returning to their countries of origin after extended time away. By 1999 when I painted this we were all living our Canadian lives enjoying winter again with ice skating on frozen lakes like Lac Gauvreau, La Peche, Quebec.

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