Ottawa Artist Claude Latour to Unveil his Latest Works at Patrick Gordon Framing

Chances are you know Claude Latour. Even if you have never met the Ottawa artist, his most notable work, Monz, a moose antler-styled bench, sits gracefully at the edge of the Flora Street Footbridge and Queen Elizabeth Driveway.

In 2019, Latour premiered the inaugural Makwa exhibition, followed by a second, Makwa’s Horizon, in 2022. The show combined Latour’s native spirituality with the existential angst of technology increasingly interrupting and shaping our lives.

Now, the Makwa series returns with Makwa’s Hibernation, opening on Thursday, September 21, at Patrick Gordon Framing on Elm Street in Ottawa. Makwa is Algonquin for bear; Latour’s maternal family is part of the bear clan, an Anishinaabe clan that inhabits the Ottawa-Maniwaki area.

This new exhibition focuses on the Ottawa area as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and its effects on human interaction and life. Latour does all the work from scratch without the help of plugin AI apps that generate art through keywords, but he finishes all his creations on a computer, with hand-drawn additions to supplement digital aspects.

Latour was initially fascinated with AI when punch-in technology was first introduced; he now sees a future where it will be difficult to distinguish real art from computer-generated images. Latour’s latest works reflect a further awakening regarding mankind’s biggest existential question in decades.

The works in his new collection review contemporary themes in Canada and around the world from the perspective of an Anishinaabe person.

Looking existentially at the possibility of technology for violence, one piece shows traditional dancers in photographs taken by Latour with native warriors in the background. The photos appear eerie, with the faces of Tesla humanoids and robots marching while attack helicopters fly menacingly above. Latour says the piece demonstrates AI’s existential threat to humanity if combined with weaponry and warfare.

Other themes explored include reconciliation and missing and murdered Indigenous women. Latour has created a piece based on a story passed down by Algonquin families from generation to generation. It features a woman from their tribe who was brutally raped, murdered, and impaled by British soldiers on the site of what is now Parliament Hill.

In the story, a native party travelling down the Ottawa River behind the hill notices the woman’s corpse. Instead of raising a war party to exact revenge, their wise chief advised them that her spirit would forever curse the location. Latour’s work shows a blurred woman sitting on a log with a bird offering her comfort. The red dress worn by the figure is representative of the red dress campaign for missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Latour will also present other artworks with his unique modern feel that mixes, contrasts and blends his traditional and spiritual beliefs with cultural history. Truly an artist of modern times, you do not want to miss the opportunity to see the latest chapter in the Mawka series.

The vernissage for this event will be on Thursday, September 21st, from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. with special guest DJ William Wikcemna Yamni sam Wanzi.

If you can’t get to the opening, swing by the gallery and check out Latour’s Makwa’s Hiberation exhibition between September 21 and October 12, 2023.

Make sure to drop in to check out Latour’s work at Patrick Gordon Framing, 160 Elm Street.