Bookwus Mask, 2016, Beau Dick (Kwakwaka'wakw), Red cedar, acrylic paint, horsehair, deer hide, 25” x 28” x 12”

Original size is 2791 × 2791 pixels

This Bookwus is an exceptionally expressive mask; it is one of the best representations of Bookwus that Beau has ever made. It’s incredibly powerful in its form and design, and an excellent example of how Beau is currently making the best masks of his career. Bookwus, or the Wild Man of the Woods, is a Kwakwaka’wakw supernatural being who lurks on the edges of forests and near streams, hoping to lure the souls of those who drown or unwitting humans to eat his ghost food, which causes them to become otherworldly like him.

Bookwus’ appearance in the winter ceremony is chilling as he brings with him a powerful reminder of keeping one’s wits about them in life and death. The dramatic, slick, and smooth movements of the Bookwus remind the audience of the seductive and dangerous nature of this powerful being.

There is a ghostly allure to Bookwus, which Beau brings forth so successfully, that most viewers are slightly perplexed by their attraction to this fearsome mask. It is this enchanting quality that organizers of the 2010 Sydney Biennale were looking for when they requested one of Beau’s Bookwus masks to participate in the exhibition. Throughout his career, Beau captured the essence of Bookwus with more power and emotion than any other artist.