lessLIE (Coast Salish), Middle Point (2008), acrylic on paper [Alcheringa Gallery, Victoria BC, Jul 17- Aug 23]
A solo show of new paintings by Coast Salish artist lessLIE Sam features winsome images of simple contour shapes with strong optic sensations.
Based on line traditions found in early cultures like the cuneiform writing system of Mesopotamia and Coast Salish visual art, the images have buoyancy not often found in contemporary art.
With their abstract wedges, crescents, circles and ovals, the paintings allude to key elements of Northwest Coast First Nations art: line, colour, and form, found in the characteristic ovoids, U-forms, split U-forms and S-forms. The works explore middle grounds between painting and drawing, and between painting line and writing line.
Born in 1973 in Duncan, BC, lessLIE is Coast Salish of Cowichan, Penelakut, Esquimalt, Irish, Italian, and French descent. His colonized, Catholic, Canadian name is Leslie Robert Sam. He prefers the decolonized artist's name of lessLIE to represent his sense of personal freedom.
lessLIE has a Bachelor of Arts degree in First Nations Studies from Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo, BC. He began to study Coast Salish art in 1995. His influences include his cousin Joe Wilson, Manual Salazar, Maynard Johnny Jr., Shaun Peterson, Luke Marston and John Marston, and, in particular, Coast Salish artist Susan A. Point (to whom he is distantly related), Robert Davidson and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. lessLIE is a graduate student at the University of Victoria working on a Master of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on Coast Salish art.