Projections: The Paintings of Henry Speck, Udzi’stalis

The Kwakwaka’wakw artist Henry Speck, or Udzi’stalis (1908 – 1971), became a “newly discovered phenomenon” in 1964 when his paintings of masked dancers, coastal creatures, and sea monsters were shown at Vancouver’s New Design Gallery.


Chief Speck, from Turnour Island, British Columbia, was a community leader, teacher, and cultural practitioner. By the 1930s he was also becoming known for his modern paintings, rendered in vibrant colours and textures. His work caught the attention of the Austrian artist and theorist, Wolfgang Paalen, and was declared by the Haida artist Bill Reid to be “far beyond anything attempted before in Kwakiutl art.”


Experience Henry Speck’s paintings through originals and large-scale projections that refigure his work against a backstory of media images, sound, and film—an installation that evokes the changing contexts of the mythic and the modern in the 20th century.


This exhibition is made possible with support from the Michael O’Brian Family Foundation, and is organized by the UBC Museum of Anthropology and Satellite Gallery.


Exhibition Title

PROJECTIONS: The Paintings of Henry Speck, Udzi’stalis


July 14 to September 15, 2012 at Satellite Gallery


Karen Duffek, MOA Curator of Contemporary Visual Arts & Pacific Northwest; and Marcia Crosby, writer, scholar, and PhD candidate, UBC Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory.

Curators' Essay