Thank you to everyone who came out to support our online art auction!
Thank you to everyone who came out to support our online art auction!
This mobile is perfect for the visual development of babies (birth to 4 months), and will continue to delight children of all ages with its beauty. Each coloured piece of sturdy watercolour paper is backed by its complementary hue. The mobile is stitched together with thread. At the top a small silver ring provides an easy attachment (via fishing line or thread) to suspend the mobile at the desired height (beyond the child’s reach). The mobile moves peacefully with the slightest airflow, catching the child’s attention and providing an early introduction to the colour spectrum.
Thank you to little Florence Marily for being my model. We change her mobile every two weeks and she told me to tell you that this one has been her favourite!
At first I thought that I was looking at some new Amy Cutler illustrations…
Kristin Bjornerud’s watercolour and gouache paintings similarly explore contemporary political themes, ecological motifs, and personal narratives through a feminine lens of folktales, dreams, and magical realism. Ms. Bjornerud describes her delicately painted tableaus as a world “wherein dream logic pervades, where women swim with narwhals and vivify hand-knit fauna. These eccentric landscapes are uncanny projections of a possible world where familiar activities are imbued with a mythic quality while, at the same time extraordinary deeds are carried out with unruffled poise by proud, unconventional heroines.”
This style of art is very poetic to me. These images, like poetry allow one to see invisible threads that connect things, in introspective ways and occasionally with a bit of clever humour.
In the vein of Cutler, Bjornerud’s illustrations born on an expanse of white, create contemporary surrealist fairy tales that “act as a medium through which we may consider our ethical obligations to the natural world and to each other”. Bjornerud finds that “retelling and reshaping stories helps us to understand how we are entangled, where we meet, and how our differences may be viewed as disguises of our sameness.”
Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Kristin Bjornerud earned her MFA at the University of Saskatchewan (2005), her BFA from the University of Lethbridge (2002), and is the recipient of several grants from the Saskatchewan Arts Board. Her work is included in the collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, the Saskatchewan Arts Board and Citibank Canada. She currently lives and works in Hamilton, Ontario.
It was a sunny day in late July, I was wandering up Moss street, enjoying Victoria’s annual “Paint-In”, when I met William Kurelek. The sky was a prairie blue and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria was admittance by donation – the day was only getting better. Kurelek’s work drew me in right away. At first I was tickled by his illustrative style (reminding me of the linework of Eric Chase Anderson, Norman Rockwell and the colour schemes of Pieter Bruegel the Elder), from there I was drawn in to the details. Most of the paintings shown in this exhibition are done with oil paint, ink, and gouache, even scratching, on masonite boards. The subject matter ranges from childhood reflections to religious allegory, often set on the scenes of the Canadian prairies. The detail that ties his work together so tightly and uniquely is found in the framing. Some of the frames are trimmed with Ukrainian textile ribbons, others have carved patterns, highly detailed, and are painted to complimentary echo the colours that are used within the painting.
Kurelek received training as an apprentice to a fine-art framer in 1957 while institutionalized in England (he was recovering from a deep depression and being treated for schizophrenia). During his treatments he painted a work entitled “The Maze” (you may recognize a portion of it from Van Halen’s “Fair Warning” album cover?). In this painting he reveals the inside of his skull, showing interior vignettes depicting pressures and painful experiences he had as a boy, youth, and adult. In 1969 Kurelek spoke about this painting: “The Maze is a painting of the inside of my skull which I painted while I was in England as a patient in Maudsley and Netherne psychiatric hospitals. It is a story of my life… well in the sense that people tell stories by the fireplace to entertain their guests, trying to make them accept you. In this case, I wanted to be accepted as an interesting specimen.”
There has been a movie made about this painting. First began in 1969 by Robert M. Young and David Grubin, in an attempt to make a documentary about psychotic art. The final, full version was never completed, until recently when Robert’ sons, Nick and Zack Young, recovered the film and expanded it with an original soundtrack and modern digital animation. Nick speaks about the film: “We feel that the longer version of the film that the public has yet to see gives a much deeper insight into Kurelek’s story. We’ve been able to track down just about all of the paintings in the original film as well as others and have rephotographed them with equipment that was not available to our father when he made the original film. There is so much detail and hidden meaning in these paintings and William Kurelek’s story becomes all the more compelling when one experiences in High Definition what a masterful artist he was.” When making the soundtrack they researched what music Kurelek had listened to while painting and explored traditional Ukrainian folk music and Ukrainian instruments.
The film will be playing this week in Victoria. The screening will be followed by discussion with Stephen Kurelek, the artist’s son, who will respond to the film drawing on personal accounts and experiences.
Read about “Olympia’s Bosom” on a recently posted artifacts article for The Media Res: here
Illustrating Desire – “Breasts like Fawns”
When, in illustrating Alastair’s piece, I tried to imagine the illustration for the simile “breasts like fawns” from the Song of Solomon, the two strongest images in my recollection (from all of the quintessential nude reclining women paintings and sculptures that I had studied in art history as a student) were Ingres’ La Grande Odalisque (1814) and Manet’s Olympia (1863). Obviously the Ms. Olympia makes for a better canvas to place the fawns.
The main difference between these two paintings is as much in the models who posed for them, as it is in the actual paintings, and a little context in this regard might substantially alter the way in which you view them: Manet’s model for Olympia (Victorine Meurent, 1844-1927) was also a practicing artist and posed as model for many artists in her time, and for this reason (perhaps) was thought of as a prostitute (or at least painted as such). Studying the online print of the Olympia in detail as I made the pen and ink rendering drew me deeper into the mystery of this woman, and I found myself drawing conclusions about her life and Manet’s intentions in painting her. She is a woman of disrespectful reputation, in this classical “Venus” style.
Odalisque, the more prude of the two as seen by her position on the divan, has the air of a respectable and classy lady,…
…whereas Olympia comes across as bold, haughty, and indulged, as she reveals nearly everything to the viewer. She wears an exotic gold bangle with a dangling gemstone, jeweled satin bedroom shoes and reclines on an oriental shawl. A servant woman brings her (yet another?) bouquet of flowers… gifts from her clients? She herself is presented as a gift with the black satin ribbon tied in a bow around her pale neck. Her squared shoulders and jarring hand give off an air of indifference and entitlement; “Oh, more flowers? hmph,” she might have said to Manet as she held her intentional pose with a cold, disinterested stare.
Yet, when you study her face closely, there is a youthful naivete in her eyes (Victorine was only 19 at the time), a bit of fear in her pressed lips, and perhaps even an element of self-protection in the placement of her hand. I wonder what she thought of this opportunity to get a full-body self-portrait painted by Manet. Was it paid for by another suitor? Did she save up for this attempt at eternal youth and self-preservation?
The women are painted in a similar manner (skilled oil painting on canvas) and hung in elaborate frames and made to be displayed in a gallery (Odalisque measuring 35 x 64″ and Olympia measuring 51.4 x 74.8″).* Manet’s painting of Olympia was displayed in an exhibition for everyone to see, to marvel at, to question, just as Ingres’ painting of Odalisque was, but I do not think the viewers looked at this one with quite the same intention. Before them is not just an image of a famous “prostitute” (really just a struggling artist), but of a beautiful female figure, just like the Greek and Roman statues of marble that recline in the halls of the Louvre. Perhaps the wives of the husbands who may have been with this woman were there to see the unveiling of this painting. Perhaps some of Olympia’s power over these men and women was stripped bare as the voyeurs beheld her naked figure, free of charge, as close as they wanted to. Perhaps, now that she is seen in this way, the viewer is surprised to feel compassion towards this young woman? You may be glad to know that she went on to become an accomplished painter in her own right.