Yellow Tiger Swallowtail

There are so many layers of meaning to Paul Morstad’s ultra-creative works. His drawings and paintings carry semi-fictional narratives built on natural science, mythology, musicology, rumours, hyperbole and folklore. (Above: Orphan Tsunami, 22 x 30″ Watercolour, 2022)

The Pale Pelagic Laundrymaid (Cuttlefish Clothesline),
watercolour on paper, 22 x 30 “, 2019    

Slate Fine Art has announced Yellow Tiger Swallowtail, a new Morstad exhibition to run May 18 to June 10. His work occupies “the hinterland between tangled wilderness and tidy civilization . . . a semifictitious realm that is both water-bound and terrestrial,” Morstad explains.

Stone Boat, 22”x30, Watercolour, 2022

“Sometimes based on legend or dreams or just a remnant of something overheard, my compositions are charts of a kind,” he says. “They map a purgatory inhabited by wandering nomads, tricky hobos, long-dead composers, defunct societies, distant relatives, extinct animals, forgotten deities, and mythical beasts who all reluctantly coexist somewhere between harmony and discord.”

Bootlegger Battle

His themes include “migration, encroachment, ecological decay, extirpation, and extinction,” Morstad says. “The media I use range from oil on panel, watercolour, pen and ink, and intaglio printmaking processes.”

Antarctic Whaling Station, watercolour on 300lbs hotpress paper, 29 1/2 x 47 1/2 “, 2020
The Blue Scarf, 22”x30” Watercolour

Morstad explained this image on his Instagram when he posted this work a few weeks ago: “Klavdiya Shulzhenko was a Ukrainian 1930s/40s era singer who’s beautiful song, The Blue Head Scarf, which originally alluded to romantic love, was co-opted and rewritten as patriotic propaganda for the Russian war effort in WWII.”

Morstad also makes short, animated films with similar themes. His best known is Moon Man Newfie, composed and sung by Stompin’ Tom Connors, from the National Film Board of Canada. (How much more Canadian could that be?)

This Vimeo exploration of his art is definitely worth a watch., made during his 2021 exhibition at Galerie Youn.

Paul Morstad’s website, here.

His Instagram here.

His next exhibition, in Regina at Slate Fine Art Gallery, here.

Also represented by Galerie Youn in Montreal, here.

Also represented by Gallery Jones in Vancouver, here.

Note: Morstad broke ground while working for the National Film Board. Moon Man was the NFB’s second animated film using the revolutionary IMAX SANDDE digital system, which enables animators to draw and animate 3D images in space with a moving wand. (It is presented here in its 2D version).

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