Canadian Fine Art Auction

May 28, 2018

LOT 86

Lot 86


Lot 86 Details


oil on canvas
signed and dated ‘73
29.5 ins x 24.75 ins; 74.9 cms x 62.9 cms

Estimate $9,000-$12,000

Realised: $9,600
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images

Private Collection, Teeswater, Ontario


A critical food source for Indigenous people throughout history, the buffalo also plays a central role in many oral histories as both a physical and spiritual force. A symbol of honour, strength, endurance and generosity, the buffalo and the buffalo hunt are common themes in both indigenous and settler paintings. Benjamin Chee Chee (1944-1977) inverts this typical representation by creating an abstract, non-figurative imagining of the buffalo in a swirling, brightly coloured geometric design.

After a troubled youth of alcohol-related crimes, time in prison and a burdensome search for his own identity, Chee Chee moved to Montreal from his hometown of Temagami, where his interest and talent for art was fostered by the prominent portrait artist Dorothy Watt. His time in Montreal proved extremely influential, and by the time he moved to Ottawa in the early 1970s, it was clear that his star was already on the rise. Painted in 1973, when Chee Chee’s style was still largely geometric and inspired by current trends in modern abstraction, Buffalo Series is a clear example of his early work using block print motifs. Chee Chee did not want to be confined to any one particular style, group or movement. He sought his own individual voice and aesthetic above all else which was perhaps his way of filling the void of detachment and bereavement he felt after a childhood growing up without parents and a tenuous relationship with his cultural heritage.

After a life filled with wild highs and devastating lows, fueled by alcoholism, Chee Chee committed suicide at the age of 32, at the height of his career, leaving the art world and Canadian public reeling.


For condition information please contact the specialist.

LOT 86

About Condition Ratings

  • 5 Stars: Excellent - No discernable damage, flaws or imperfections
  • 4 Stars: Very Good - Minor flaws or imperfections visible only under close inspection using specialised instruments or black light
  • 3 Stars: Good - Minor flaws visible upon inspection under standard lighting
  • 2 Stars: Fair - Exhibits flaws or damage that may draw the eye under standard lighting
  • 1 Star: Poor - Flaws or damage immediately apparent under standard lighting (examples: missing components, rips, broken glass, damaged surfaces, etc.)

Note: Condition ratings and condition details are the subjective opinions of our specialists and should be used as a guide only. Waddington’s uses due care when preparing condition details, however, our staff are not professional restorers or conservators. Condition details and reports are not warranties and each lot is sold “as is” in accordance with the buyer’s terms and conditions of sale. In all cases the prospective purchaser is responsible for inspecting the property themselves prior to placing a bid.