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Norval Morrisseau – circa 1985
Acrylic, 36 x 24 in
$18.9K – Please contact the gallery to inquire about purchasing this painting.
“Just Be” is an important Morrisseau painting created during a largely undocumented period. This delightful depiction of children playing in a butterfly garden is unique for the early 1980s and perhaps even prophetic of the joys he would experience a decade later as a grandfather. Morrisseau chose to title the painting in pencil on the verso, “Children of Mental Plane”, before crossing it out, only to later write a new title, “Just Be”. The as-of-yet uncorroborated story behind Morrisseau re-titling this painting I find both fascinating and reasonable.
Circa 1986, through a series of unfortunate events Morrisseau’s paintings and possessions including books, photos, and other painted artifacts were left behind, as he fled Ontario for Jasper. The particulars of Morrisseau’s West coast oddysey will at some point be disclosed. In 2019 these items resurfaced, including this 36 x 24 inch gem of a painting and Norval’s copy of the 1979 book about him produced by Jack Pollock, The Art of Norval Morrisseau. The book includes original pen drawings by him along with his handwritten messages apparently directed at his ailing friend and former art dealer, Pollock. Essentially his message to his friend was to “Just Be”. As the tale goes, Norval changed the painting’s title in order to gift it along with the book to assist Jack with his recovery.
Throughout his career Morrisseau’s artwork transformed from one metamorphosis to another as he grew as a soul within. His devotion to Eckankar; the ancient science of soul travel, placed Norval in the position of being the student chela learning before the inner masters. Amongst other things, he believed that they were teaching him the nature and wisdom of child-like simplicity. In this painting Morrisseau appears to be experiencing himself as a child amongst children learning to soul travel into the inner planes.