“University of Regina Professor of Visual Arts & Member of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society (NMHS) Accuses Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries (KRG) of Selling Fake Morrisseaus in 2014”
In an “expert report,” filed with a Toronto court, in which she lays out her “proof” for why a Morrisseau painting, owned by Kevin Hearn, is a fake, a University of Regina Visual Arts Associate Professor makes, what can only be described as a totally damning case, that Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries, has been selling lowlife Morrisseau fakes to its clients, probably for many years. (Professor Robertson says she’s been a member of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society since 2009.)
Rewind – In her 67 page “Expert Report,” called “Analysis of the Art of Norval Morrisseau And Spirit Energy of Mother Earth,” Carmen Robertson, a University of Regina Associate Professor of Contemporary Aboriginal Art, spent four pages (p 35 – 39) explaining, in great detail, how a key Morrisseau artistic convention – namely “lines of communication” (LOC) and “divided circles” (DC) – were always handled by Norval Morrisseau, as “connected” and treated as a unified whole, namely: “lines of communication connecting divided circles” (LOCCDC). She deduces that only a forger would depart from that convention. So she calls the Hearn painting a fake.
Agreement – No one I know of, disagrees that Norval did paint “Divided Circles,” DCs sometimes… No one I know of, disagrees that Norval connected the DCs with Lines of Communication to each other, or to other elements in the picture, sometimes… Which is our point of departure from Ms. Robertson’s analysis.
She says Morrisseau’s “divided circles” (DCs) were Norval’s “favourite art sign”*** that could be found on many of his paintings. But never in isolation, i.e. “floating” on their own. That they were always “connected” by solid “lines of communication.” She further maintains that the colour content, and presentation, of the DC’s was always simple and never “decorative.”
***Robertson cites a letter from Susan Ross to that effect. She does not say if she ever knew or talked to Ross, who is credited by history with introducing Norval to Jack Pollock, in 1962. I can do better than that; in the mid-1970s, I met and knew Sheila Burnford, the notable British/Canadian author who wrote “Incredible Journey” which Disney made into a film. I wore her ex-husband’s winter jacket for decades after he committed suicide. I still am friends with her daughters. So what? Well Sheila was a longtime buddy of Susan Ross, and was with her when the TWO OF THEM introduced Norval to Jack Pollock. Sheila’s daughters have Morrisseaus she got from Norval when they all lived in Thunder Bay. Says one of them, “Heck, everybody had them…” Testifying to the immense impact of Canada’s only people’s artist in making large fine art works of acrylic on canvas affordable for Canada’s middle and working classes.
In short, Professor Robertson claims that Norval ALWAYS:
1) used ONLY “LOCCDCs,” – “lines of communication connecting divided circles”
2) NEVER used “DCs” in isolation – disconnected, free-floating “divided circles”
3) NEVER used “decorated” DCs – adding extra layers of extra colours inside them
Those Damn “Decorative” Floaters…
The professor harshly targets “Floaters” – which I call them – or disconnected and unassociated “divided circles” (DCs) just randomly floating about on paintings, totally unconnected to any other pictorial elements and NOT connected by dark lines of communication hence free “floaters” – as tellingly damning.
Professor Robertson says strongly that Norval NEVER used floaters; that floaters are a certain sign of a forgery, and a damning and sure sign of a fake Morrisseau, in this case piling up, what she claims, is her proof that Kevin Hearn’s “Spirit Energy of Mother Earth” is a forgery.
“These lines, sometimes referred to as power lines, are an essential aspect of Morrisseau’s vocabulary… The lines of communication found in Spirit Energy of Mother Earth defy this formulaic convention.” (Expert Report on Spirit Energy/C. Robertson p 36)
“Another convention common to the lines of communication is the relationship between these lines and the bifurcated circles that remain an important part of Morrisseau’s visual vocabulary.” (Expert Report on Spirit Energy/C. Robertson p 38)
“Just as Spirit Energy of Mother Earth does not utilize lines of communication in ways that conform to Morrisseau’s visual vocabulary, the divided circles included in the painting are also problematic. Seven divided circles are included in this painting and none of the circles are connected to the beings by lines. Morrisseau linked his lines of communication or energy lines to the divided circles as part of his established visual language. The bisected circles in Spirit Energy of Mother Earth, unattached, appear to be floating on the surface of the work and therefore do not follow Morrisseau’s usage of the convention. The highly decorative nature of these particular circles does not related (sic) to Morrisseau’s usage or the circles either.” (Expert Report on Spirit Energy/C. Robertson p 38)
“… the free-floating divided circle in Spirit Energy of Mother Earth demonstrates a marked difference in meaning and visual rendering and therefore does not conform to Morrisseau’s established visual language.” (Expert Report on Spirit Energy/C. Robertson p 39)
“The use of lines of communication, divided circle conventions are inconsistent with Morrisseau’s visual vocabulary in their randomness… simply one element of the work that leads me to the conclusion that Spirit Energy of Mother Earth was not painted by Norval Morrisseau.” (Expert Report on Spirit Energy/C. Robertson p 45)
These are several, of what she claims are her strongest proofs, on why the Kevin Hearn painting, “Spirit Energy of Mother Earth” is a fake Morrisseau, maliciously fabricated by a witless forger who was totally ignorant about how Norval painted, and so made huge mistakes in grossly misrepresenting elements of Norval’s own standard painting techniques.
NOTE: Prof. Robertson is not alone in having no explanation of why a forger would add glaringly wrong elements into a composition, if the artist did not do it. Because in doing so it would immediately send up a red flag called “fake.” And so precipitate detection, arrest and probable jail time. So why do it?
Forensic scientists, like Dr. Atul K Singla, with an MA and a PhD in forensics, repeat the Golden Rule of Forgers: “If the artist didn’t do it, then the forger won’t do it.”
And the codicil: “Only the artist him/herself dares to innovate, invent, and to depart from the usual and conventional style for which they are known.”
Boldly ignoring this distraction, Prof. Robertson forges ahead and makes a bullet-proof argument that – incontrovertibly – can only be called a damning accusation against Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries.
Robertson Calls Out KRG Fake #1 – In their 2014 Norval Morrisseau Retrospective Catalogue of Kinsman Robinson Galleries Morrisseau paintings, the KRG principals publish a huge “Morrisseau” painting they have for sale, “Encircling Serpent with Ancestors c 1996.”
It is the biggest photo in the entire catalogue; it is the only painting that covers two full pages of the catalogue, and the only painting which has three catalogue pages – count ‘em folks, three – devoted to a single painting.
In case you missed it folks, KRG loves this painting more than any other during their 2014 Retrospective Show.
Disclosure: I attended the Retrospective in person and spent a lot of close and personal time with all the paintings on display. None of the Galleries principals recognized me and I did not make myself known.
And as Prof. Robertson’s analysis makes crystal clear, it is a lowlife fake, that Norval would never have painted.
Because it showcases in grand style, the exact kind of painting, containing all the damning elements, that the University Visual Arts Professor, and Member of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, says is proof of a lowlife fake that Norval Morrisseau would never have painted.
1 – It shows a divided circle (DC) as a floater, not once, not twice, but five different times…
2 – It shows not a single line of communication anywhere in sight…
Ms. Robertson must clearly believe, if she reads her own report, that the Robinsons – with their huge Retrospective Catalogue publicity send-up for “Encircling Serpent with Ancestors c 1996” – are trying to sucker-punch a trusting KRG customer into buying what she has proven to be, in her own mind, is a lowlife fake.
And then it gets worse…
In fact the documentary record is clear. “Encircling Serpent with Ancestors c 1996” is far from the only “Robertson indicted type fake” the Robinsons have been involved with buying and selling.
Robertson Calls Out KRG Fake #2 – In 1999-2001 Donald Robinson bought “Untitled – Demons Attack Baby Birds” which also features a floater with no connecting lines of communication anywhere.
I rescued this, damning and compromising document, with Photoshop, off the floor at Norval’s feet as the NMHS members were sorting the Wankers into burning piles.
It not only has a damning floater but a twice-damning “decorative” floater at the top.
3 – It also shows decorative, coloured panels of inserted colour.
And then it gets worser…
Robertson Calls Out KRG Fake #3 – In 2009 KRG gave Professor Wang of Pennsylvania State, a painting they had bought, featuring four huge decorative floaters, surrounding a bird diving on a blue background.
Giving documentary proof that at the time Donald Robinson was aggressively calling himself the world’s top Morrisseau expert, of over a dozen years’ duration, and “the man who wrote the book on Morrisseau” – “Travels to the House of Invention” 1997 – he was aggressively buying Morrisseaus for resale to KRG clients which had multiple huge glaring decorative floaters , with not a single line of communication in sight…
Take your pick: the good professor, or the Master from the House of Invention…
Robertson Calls Out KRG Fake #4 – A famous painting, “Water Spirits,” hawked for many years by notorious KRG business partner Bryant Ross, for $12,500, as a direct-from-the-artist original, even though it had six floaters, and decorative ones at that…
Despite the con-line from his Coghlan Arts website, claiming ALL his Morrisseaus were “direct-from-the-artist” – a very powerful sales gimmick – Ross often bought secondary market Morrisseaus, which had NO provenance attached, from dealers and collectors.
Like “Water Spirits” he then tried to sell them on his Coghlan Arts website, to clients or internet surfers, or hawking them on ebay, or Seahawk Auctions, all of which are documented for this painting.
Ross finally gave up trying to sell it, and publicly defaced it before the TV cameras in Vancouver on Jan. 27, 2010.
In 2014, he also gave it to Ritchie Sinclair to put up as a Fake in the notorious Jason St-Laurent’s “F IS FOR FAKE” exhibit in Ottawa’s SAW Gallery in 2014.
But I believe “Water Spirits” has been genuine all along. And on that occasion – after waiting for years for just such an opportunity, to get the painting in hand, and alone, I did hi-res photography of the front and back, hoping to get a forensic expert to examine the huge BDP signature on the back, which of course, Bryant Ross, the Robinson family, the NMHS conspirators, all say is FAKE.
And worse yet…
Robertson Calls Out KRG Fake #5
– On Jan. 26, 2000 Donald Robinson was the voracious underbidder on “Fish 1976.”
But I overbid him on it.
But he certainly wanted it, badly, even though Professor Robertson would have reminded him that it had four – count ’em – four decorative floaters, totally unconnected in any way, with lines of communication not showing the slightest interest in hooking up with any of them.
But what can you tell a man? Not much Ms. Robertson would probably agree. And that includes forensic scientist Kenneth J Davies, a handwriting expert, who’s done more Morrisseau signature examinations than anyone else. He completely ignored those damn decorative floaters too, when he did his signature handwriting testing… And found it to be Norval’s with DNA certainty.
Robertson Calls Out KRG Fake #6
– In the 2014 KRG Morrisseau Retrospective, Don, Diane, Paul and John, featured a huge painting they listed as “Mythical Thunderbird 1967,” acrylic on kraft board, even though it
– once before, had been – a “Loon;”
– once before had been – titled “Medicine Loon;”
– once before had been – dated 1963;
– once before had been – on building paper;
– once before had been – provenanced to the Damkjar Burton Gallery…:
– once before had been totally differently provenanced in author James Stevens’ 2011 Morrisseau book.
Well at least till the Robinson’s provenance manufactory in the basement, ruthlessly re-configured it, changed all those key constituent elements that make up provenance, to sucker-punch those art index internet sleuths, and offered it for sale as a totally untraceable “Mythical Thunderbird.”
Perplexing Words from the Master of the House of Invention – “… we would never recommend amassing such a (Morrisseau) collection with no (documentary chain of title) support. Provenance is everything in the art world.” (KRG Principal Morrisseau Dealer Blog May 8, 2008)
Begging the question: who the hell is the inventive genius in the KRG basement that is working so hard to give KRG clients the provenance that Paul, and Don, and John, want them to have? In place of Norval’s…
Was it “Pop” Robinson? Was it his “ex” Diane? Was it their son “Paul the Pup” Robinson? Or was it Pup Robinson’s “Pard” John MacGregor Newman, who has quite a rap sheet himself of being a sneaky, anonymous blogger, whose secret identity was uncovered with a site-meter by Ugo Matulic.
Or is it like the “family that prays together,” fabricates together?
IN FACT, the documentary proof that I’ve unearthed is clear that NONE OF THE PROVENANCE OFFERED BY KRG ON THE MYTHICAL THUNDERBIRD CAME FROM NORVAL, OR HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH NORVAL.
BUT JUST AS CLEARLY, KRG (Paul, Don, John and Diane) WANTED YOU TO BELIEVE IT ALL CAME FROM NORVAL, WHEN IN FACT THEY VERY WELL KNEW NONE OF IT DID – THAT IT ALL CAME FROM PAUL, OR DON, OR JOHN, OR DIANE, OR NATALIE, OR THE CLEANING LADY…
Oh, I thought you’d never ask: If the Robinson family is so ethically challenged, and ruthlessly crass and pro-active, about faking and forging a historical document (altering, omitting, deleting, inventing parts) – and others we’ve documented – what is the chance that they would also fake and forge the pictorial part of other paintings – in whole or in part – that they want you to think are painted by Morrisseau, long after he already had the most destroyed mind and body of any leading personality, in Canadian history?
In fact longtime Morrisseau contract artist Karl Burrows wrote that he painted lots, and signed lots, of fake “Morrisseaus” in the years after 1990, which then went directly to Bryant Ross (Coghlan Art in Aldergrove, BC) and to KRG for sale tagged as “Direct-from-the-artist Norval Morrisseaus,” when Norval had NOTHING to do with any of them. And Karl says, he, Ross, and KRG ALL knew it.
So, how many hundred fakes would that be, in all, Karl?
And the Corollary – How many forged “Burrowsseau” paintings did KRG knowingly sell to its clients over the years?
(We know, for example that KRG knowingly sold a Morrisseau it considered a fake – the notorious Wanker #1 – to Jane Brown of Toronto, for multi-thousands, and never contacted her to give her a refund, even though, 15 years after she bought it, her vital statistics were still logged into the KRG computer)
And the final: Guess what those paintings are worth today?
And if you want to check whether yours is one of those, just look at the back. If it’s BLANK, and has a KRG sticky label, you’re getting warm… So KRG sticky papers are very valuable here, and in any future court actions…
Now all you have to do is take your painting with Norval’s signature on the back, to a forensic handwriting expert and you’re home free… But… but… you say, there IS NO SIGNATURE BACK THERE. Well then, my friend, you are SOOL…
Now guess how many lawsuits are lining up outside the door to Kinsman Robinson Galleries?
Below, for your edification, a family portrait of the Robinsons and their friends, off on a merry jaunt to deal death and destruction to Norval’s art heritage, aboard KRG’s Wanker Express. When you’re so busy forging and faking provenance you do get exhausted and need to party, before getting down to it again…
And yes, I’m glad you noticed, that the Mythical Thunderbird too has what Prof. Robertson says is a damning floater, and a doubly-damning decorative one at that… Have you ever seen a more clear proof of a fake? Can’t you hear Professor Robertson scolding KRG: “You’ve changed so much already about this painting… Why couldn’t you just have added some lines of communication to that damn floater and make the painting look less of a fake?
To sum up, what the good professor says about the Hearn painting, “The result is that Spirit Energy of Mother Earth remains simply a pretty picture by an Artist who attempted to mimic Morrisseau’s visual vocabulary,” she could just as accurately, honestly, and as damningly, say about Kinsman Robinson Galleries’ own painting “Encircling Serpent with Ancestors c 1996.”
And multiple others KRG has sold or tried to sell over the years – fake Morrisseaus.
When Professor Robertson appears on the stand, to explain her “expert report” to the judge, in the Kevin Hearn trial, I am sure, in his cross-examination, Defending lawyer Brian Shiller will effectively and devastatingly use her and this aspect of her “expert report” to scorch and totally destroy Hearn’s other “expert witness” – Donald Robinson – on the stand.
Her “expert report” will go a long way to even further discredit Donald Robinson and KRG, which has already been so damningly, totally and roundly, discredited by some 29 rejections by many reputable deputy judges, judges, justices, forensic experts, Morrisseau experts.
I predict Donald Robinson will never show his face, but will be noted in the court proceedings as absent because of “sickness.” His tactical “No-show” non-Appearances are notorious. He was a no-show on:
- Feb. 2005, at the Artworld Gallery, but a suspicious Mr. Smith showed up and signed the register. He thought that if he wore the proper get-up (right) no one would recognize him
- Feb. 1, 2006, at the Norval Morrisseau National Gallery Retrospective in Ottawa, for the artist who put millions into his family bank account
- Dec. 4, 2007, though among the first (of two or three) to learn that Norval had died, was a total “no-show” in telling Norval’s Indigenous children that their father – who had put millions into the Robinson family’s bank account – had died
- Dec. 6, 2007 – was a total no-show – not putting out a nickel – to help bring Norval’s children to Toronto to pick up their father’s body – JAMES WHITE DID THAT OUT OF HIS OWN POCKET, FOR A MAN WHO HAD RECENTLY, SUPPOSEDLY, ACCUSED HIM IN A LETTER OF May 1, 2001, OF HAVING 23 Morrisseau “Fakes.” Do you believe White thinks Norval – Deep in Dementia – wrote or was in any way responsible for that letter given him by Donald Robinson & KRG who claimed “Norval sent it and said it”?
- Nov. 16, 2010, sneaking out as “sick” to avoid making an appearance in a Toronto court, that had just been arranged, only minutes before, with Judge Godfrey
- Feb. 28, 2013, when he reported in “sick,” to avoid making an appearance on Day 2 of the Discovery process in the KRG v Matulic Libel case
- Dec. 6, 2013 , was probably “too sick” to attend the Appeal hearing before Justice Mary Anne Sanderson – hell everyone else was there – of the case, where he was the sole “expert witness” and spent, by far the most time, testifying
- Jan. 19, 2015, was a “no-show” as a character witness for Ritchie Sinclair, leading to the conviction of the Faux-nishinaabe cross-dressing Indian Impostor/Impersonator for Libel and Slander, and a fine of $25,000 from an angry Deputy Judge CW Kilian
In the last case, featuring a so-called “fake” Morrisseau, Hatfield v Artworld in 2013, Robinson and his “expert report” claiming that painting was fake, were mercilessly dismissed, discredited, and rejected, in scorching terms by Deputy Judge Paul Martial, as from a man who is uncredentialed and guilty of being hopelessly consumed by self-interest.
“He has a hopeless conflict of interest in trying to be objective about the quality or value of Morrisseau’s work…” (Judgment/Hatfield v Artworld – Deputy Judge Paul J Martial, Mar. 25, 3013.)
“It was also clear that his personal views and business interests conflicted with his professional opinion… The Court rejects his expert report and his conclusion that the Morellian analysis, style, colour, and provenance all pointed to forgery.” (Judgment/Hatfield v Artworld – Deputy Judge Paul J Martial, Mar. 25, 3013.)
Nine months later, during the Appeal hearing for the same case, the Hon. Madam Justice Mary Anne Sanderson specifically centered Donald Robinson out for special scorching and discrediting.
It was also a huge and shameful rebuff to the Plaintiff’s lawyer, Jonathan J Sommer who put such a judicially and forensically discredited “expert” like Donald Robinson on the stand as his only “expert witness.”
An expert witness is supposed to be a friend of the court, an arm’s length “expert,” supposedly with no personal or vested interest in the trial, or axe to grind in what he will say about people or an issue on the stand.
Robinson, of course, demonstrated his total inability to subscribe to those judicially-required conventions. He ALWAYS showed overwhelming self-interest.
Coming Soon; Revealing questions about the Morrisseau Yo-Yo Period of Art