Hyperclarity | Essay

In December 2015, I will be having my third solo show at Winsor Gallery. This show, as well as my previous show, is at Winsor’s new location in the new art district in Vancouver - the Flatlands1. What will be hung on the walls is the end result of a process. I would like to share a little bit of the ideas & processes that led me to include the pieces of work shown

I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta in the 60’s & 70’s. I remember my first visit to the Edmonton Art Gallery. My mother took me to see the new Photorealists. I remember being amazed at how real the artists could make the paintings and sculptures. I remember trying to feel the wet drops on the dry paintings; sitting beside the real, fake people on a bench.

I was raised amongst other artists. (I believe they were artists & I will explain later in more detail). In particular, they were my grandmother and my mother. My grandmother was a weaver - a member of the Alberta Weavers Guild. She was a prominent weaver in Alberta. She would dye bulk wool with natural dyes made with items she collected like lichen and onion skins. She would then spin this dyed bulk wool on her spinning wheel and then weave it on a huge loom - often with branches and other foud objects.

My mother was a sewer and I remember watching her design her own clothes- carefully cutting the clothes from patterns she designed and then sewing them with extreme precision. I remember playing and organizing her buttons while she laboured away.

I believe these women were artists as well as craftspeople. The debate about the crossover of art and craft is having a resurgence. It’s not a new question, the boundaries between craft and art have long been contested. With the interest in craft, artists’ such as A i Weiwei’ & his connection with traditional skills and Richard Sennett's collection of essays, ‘The Craftsman’, are gaining interest and coverage.

There are many ideas defining the distinction between the artist and craftsperson. Intention to express, the material used in the product - textiles, ceramics, glass...how a maker learnt their skill or the use of a product - something wearable.

There is still ongoing debate over whether fiber arts movement as it developed 1960s and 1970s, such as my grandmothers weaving, is more appropriately aligned with art than craft. This is certainly the case regarding the scholarship on Sheila Hicks (b. 1934), one of the most celebrated fiber artists. Also - the idea of the difficulty for these women to be taken

seriously for what they were producing. A huge nod to the feminist movement.
The 1960s and ‘70s brought an international revolution in fiber art & the women's movement because of the traditional association of women with textiles in the domestic sphere.

Fiber work has become more and more conceptual, influenced by postmodernist ideas, this brought "a new focus on creating work which confronted cultural issues such as: gender, feminism; domesticity and the repetitive tasks related to women’s work; politics; the social and behavioral sciences; material specific concepts related to fiber’s softness, permeability, drapability, etc.

I think being around all these creative people gave me the inspiration to create something from nothing. So my mother put me in private art lessons at the age of 6. I loved them and have kept creating since then.
After High school, I studied Math and Fine Arts at UBC and the University of Victoria. I then went on the study Architecture at UBC. Graduating with an Architecture degree - I went on to practice architecture for ten years before going back to painting.

I work in oil on canvas - but I really believe that artists can use any medium they want to create. I just happen to really enjoy the craft and the process of painting. I think a persons true creative spirit will “come out” no matter what medium they are using. I often wonder if my paintings are like the crafts of my ancestors - enjoying the process... the rhythm.

My paintings might be considered Hyperreal paintings - perhaps a result of the photorealistic shows I went to at the EAG. Hyperrealism is an outgrowth of extremely high resolution images produced by digital

cameras. (Whereas photorealism emulated from analog photography) With this digital photography we are kind of stopping time - immortalizing a moment. We are kind of then living in the now, remembering & retaining a moment in the now. Being present in an intense way because of these high resolution digital images,....ie a drop of water in full resolution sitting in the air...Hyperrealism became a movement.

The concept of Hyperrealism is based on the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard a French philosopher ,, "the simulation of something which never really existed”. In my case, my paintings are based on digital photography - which is like a frozen moment in time and doesn't really exist that way in the real world.. As Jean Baudrillard suggests in his example of hyperreality - technology distorting reality - "The gulf war did not exist...."

So my paintings are using digital photography as a technology. They are a simulation of reality using digital photography but with my human touch (the craft) and I can then hopefully enhance the original found beauty.
My paintings actually end up as a contrast between hyperrealism and abstract expressionism (although seemingly opposing - another recurring theme). As you can see if you get up close my paintings are abstract & painterly but as you back off they become photographic. I find this duality really interesting - also in lightness & darkness... The idea of opposites often crops up in my work - also focus - blurry vs detailed or focused. Also, the idea of craft and art meets Hyperreality/Jean Baudrillard. I consider my art sometimes to be like the crafts of my influencers. explain One of the things in regards to Baudrillard is the idea of the lack of an original, but craft is so tied to the idea of authenticity.

My paintings are human more made by a human based on technology that was originally taken by a human.but the technology or camera distorted the reality so I'm not really painting reality. So my paintings and my life are a constant flow between technology and reality.

I am typically interested in Beauty. Beauty of all kinds - beauty of the mundane, banal or everyday... Things that for some reason catch my eye. And I have been reading about the science of beauty - trying to understand why these things catch my eye. Essays by people like Ellen Dissanakye - who wrote Homo Aestheticus and argues that art is and always has been essential to humans. Something touches people and there is the need t express it.

When I get a commission - I try and learn about that person. What they are looking for and what is important to them. I try and make the moment in time they want to retain a reality.

In terms of subject matter - I find my painting are often an interpretation of culture as I see it - which is true for many artists. I find they often tend to be Pop-arty or Kitschy as its something I am also interested in. As Douglas Copeland said, ”Pop art is a way of looking at the modern and consumer world in a compelling and beautiful way. Andy Warhol said once you see the world as Pop you can never see it as un-pop."

When I see something that attracts my eye, I capture it with a digital camera. Usually taking about 200 photos, then I put it up on the computer and play with it. I then transfer the image to the canvas, all the while analyzing the image; attempting to try and bring out or highlight the parts that I found beautiful and that caught my eye. Saturating colors, emphasizing contrasts, highlighting light, popping out what I think is important in the piece or mixing parts of images together. And then I transfer it to the canvas again intensifying the part I found beautiful all the time referring to the digital image on the screen of a computer, iPad or iPhone.

For example, the detail of a glass bowl with fruit has colorful rainbows in the glass - I find beauty and try to make it more extreme in my paintings. (Or sometimes not - as they are already amazing).

I'm not sure if most overlook what I see - I think most people see the same things - I just exaggerate it. I've also been very visual from a very young age so I'm always looking for beauty in the everyday. I believe artists defract what is going on in the world- they are kind of like a prism that takes in light or information & separates it into the various colors that make up the light. or ideas...- taking in information, processing it and delivering an interpretation.

 

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