- Date: Friday, October 26, 2018 – Tuesday, November 6, 2018
- Time: 7:00pm
- Venue: Cre8ery, 2nd floor - 125 Adelaide St. Winnipeg
- Admission: Free
- Links: More Information
Opening reception, October 26, 7-10 pm; First Friday, November 2, Noon - 10 pm.
The topography of every face is continuously changing, not only due to the physical effects of aging, but also the emotional impact of each and every moment of life. These two overarching themes work in concert to paint the years onto that formerly smooth canvas, creating a beautiful landscape that is at once unique to the individual, yet part of our common experience.
I wrote a book a few years ago, about our family’s nine-month trip around the world, and at the start of the preface I wrote this: What is understanding without discovery, discovery without exploration? Exploration without the journey?
And what I meant by that was: on those travels, everything we came to understand, with all that we discovered, was made that much more meaningful through our exploration, that much more powerful by all of our journey that had come before. That’s one reason why, after six months of exploring the world, and particularly after two months of travelling in India, standing in front of the Taj Mahal was so much more powerful than seeing any picture of it in a book.
On the recommendation of a friend, I picked up Daniel Mendelsohn’s book Waiting for the Barbarians, a collection of Mendelsohn’s reviews and essays. In one of them, he discusses Zachary Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey, a collection of over forty concise versions of Homer’s Odyssey. Mendelsohn writes: “Many of [Mason’s stories] have [a] gnomic, abbreviated feel…If Homer’s Odyssey is expansive, Mason’s odysseys are studies in compression, but brevity brings many of them close to triviality…”
Not that I think all works of art must involve weeks or months of laborious nurturing – with respect to portraits, I could certainly capture a likeness of most people in a very short time, but there is something about the process, the exploration of the physical remnants of an individual’s personal journey that lends a certain weight to the finished piece. So for me, for what I’m trying to do in this moment, a quick likeness would work to trivialize my subject’s life story. Much like flying into Agra and flying right back home again would not really allow me to understand much, or feel much about India or the Taj Mahal. I would see it, but what would I come to understand of it?
To me, every face is a landscape of wonder. And the journey that I undertake to explore these faces becomes one of discovery and understanding. There comes some kind of fantastical connection with the subject, a connection wrought through hours of enlightening labour in the recreation of their image on paper, board, or canvas. For some, what I glean is a near-complete fiction, one birthed from the scraps of the truths of which I am aware, but it is universally positive, both in the experience and the outcome. Because I know that no matter what the terrain of my subject’s past, I am somehow getting at the root of the emotions and the untold stories, of what has been and what is yet to be, of a life lived, and all those lives left behind. All those things that could have been, for better or worse, but never were.
I hope I’m getting to some of that in these portraits, these individuals’ journeys that have lead them to where they are now.
Of course, all of this makes me wonder why my self-portraits seem to have a more ominous bent, but somehow I wonder if I can take my own angst and use that figurative hammer, what I suppose in reality is my paint brush, to mould the world anew, to a shape that holds a place for everyone to see one another as a true brother and sister, worthy of all the kindness, patience, and understanding we can offer.
That is one thing our travels taught me. We are all unique, and we are all alike. We are individuals with so much common experience. And we will see that, and we will understand it, if we take the time to really look at the face in the mirror.