About

 

Dion Kaszas

I am a figurative painter focusing on portraits of Indigenous peoples. I believe there has been a systematic effort to erase us out of existence, this truth is evident in art museums and art collections the world over. I paint to counteract this reality. I paint to populate the artistic landscape with Indigenous beauty.

 

My Story

My love for art began with comic books and the work of fantasy artists like Frank Frazetta. By the time I had graduated high school, I had worked in a variety of medium ranging from block printing, graphite to batik. Throughout my twenties, my life moved away from creative pursuits and my artistic production paused with the exception of doodles and the occasional sketch.

 

In 2009 I had finally come out of what I would characterize as my artistic dark ages and was pursuing a tattoo apprenticeship; this led me back to a creative life. I filled sketchbook after sketchbook with tattoo related drawings in the pursuit of my apprenticeship. I even signed up for a drawing class that taught us as students how to draw a portrait using graphite. In this class I did a series of graphite drawings of celebrities, something I periodically turn back to if I am in a rut and just needing to create without thought, to just get my hands moving.

 

I work as a professional tattoo artist and am one of the leaders in the movement to revive Indigenous tattooing in Canada. I am the lead facilitator of the Earthline Tattoo Training Residency, which is an Indigenous tattooing school held annually.

My goal as a creator of things to answer the creators' question to me, "what will do for the people to be?"

 

Many time in my life as an urban Indigenous person when I looked out into the world presented to me through television, history books, and the media I would not find a reflection of myself looking at me. Even in my undergraduate degree, I would be flipping through my Art History textbook, or as an adult when I wander through an art museum or collection, rarely do I catch a glimpse of myself in the faces represented in these places.

 

I can remember always looking for the "Native American" subject area of the library and flipping through the few books contained in this section and feeling pride as I see myself in the outlaw Indians and rebels, the few Indians that made into Western European textbooks. At least in these figures, I could see myself.

 

As I walked through the Louvre in France and the National Gallery in England I was struck by the fact that miles and miles of canvas were covered with White European faces and their stories, epics, and adventures (real or imagined) where depicted in these galleries. I kept looking for one of my ancestors or at least one of my friend’s ancestors to be present in one of these paintings. When we are present often we were made invisible, invisible through stereotypical characters, that have been and are continually used to represent us. These stereotypes make me, my family, and my reality as an Indigenous person invisible.

 

As I finished a long day at the Louvre looking at magnificent paintings I imagined walking through a vast gallery that contained paintings, sculptures, and artwork that made me visible as an Indigenous person. Not as a by-product of someone else’s tall tales or as a sidekick, backdrop, or footnote. A gallery filled with paintings that reflected ancestral faces, a gallery filled with artwork that I could see myself reflected, a gallery that tells my stories.

 

A gallery that is filled with our heroes, our fantasies, our struggles, and triumphs.

 

My work today is an effort to populate the artistic landscape with Indigenous faces, bodies, and beings. My goal is to make us as Indigenous peoples visible, to counteract the stereotypes, and to paint our realities into artistic existence. As a cultural tattoo practitioner the marks I tattoo on Indigenous bodies reveal the wearers Indigeneity, they reveal their Indigenous Identity.

 

My painting practice reveals the richness and beauty of the Indigenous world, whether it is the life and work of important peoples or the beauty of the ancestral face contained in a contemporary portrait of an Indigenous person. Each Indigenous person alive today has DNA that tells the story of survival, struggle, hardship, resilience, triumph, and resurgence. When I paint an Indigenous person today it is a testimony to all of these things. Each brush stroke is a prayer that strengthens our people for the struggles we all face as we make this world a better for the people to be.

 

I run two blogs the first is related to my tattoo work Tattoo Blog

The second is an exploration of my painting work  Art Blog

 

 

Don't Forget to check out the sale we are having on prints. Store


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Honor, Challenge, and Transform.