Brent Gelaude, a Vancouver-born sculptor and graduate of the UBC Fine Arts program, has spent four years carving "fake" souvenirs of Canada. Taking his inspiration from both folk and Inuit art, he has created wooden figures, busts and relief panels. The Canadian flag is a dominant motif in several pieces, including a sculpture that depicts a squat, rotund Inuit man wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the emblem. From Gelaude's perspective, images like the Eskimo and the Canadian flag - with its simple red leaf on a white background - reflect the singular associations people who live outside Canada maintain of the country. Another piece goes even farther and presents the same character in relief on a panel inscribed "Souvenir of Canada". The artworks, many life-sized or larger, will have consummate appeal for collectors of kitsch. Gelaude doesn't intend disrespect to the Inuit people; rather, he believes that images and ideas can be shared among cultures. Despite their specific references to Inuit art and clothing, he uses such European-based painting techniques as modeling to paint the chiseled faces in highly realistic colours. In part this may be due to his practice of working in part from photographs of his subjects.
© Mia Johnson