I have always been an arts oriented person since times I can remember yet it wasn’t until the 1980’s that I decided to practice art by sketching and experimenting with photography.
More than a decade later I took to regular life drawing, painting and collage work. As I progressed with practice and studies in art history I concluded that I would benefit as an artist if I took formal training.
I joined a private atelier in Toronto to study with those trained at the Florence Academy in classical art. In two years I completed the Charles Bargue Cours du Design along with copy studies in tone and colour of master paintings. This classical foundation study has proved to be invaluable to my progression as a fine artist.
Between 2000 & 2002 I studied under master painters Michael Britten and Paul Chizik at the Vancouver Academy of Art. By 2003 I was confident in my abilities to take on the mantel of professional artist. Since then I have been commissioned for portraits of people, pets and workplace illustrations. I continue to explore subjects and produce commentary with my paintings in solo exhibitions. I have also been accepted into many juried exhibitions and won several awards.
A series of paintings executed in oil on wood that has been on solo exhibit at three separate galleries in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The show looks at the changing face of Vancouver in the build up to the 2010 Winter Olympic games, a time of rapid redevelopment and wealth creation. My focus was on demolition and construction; subject matter generally seen as visually banal and uninviting. My intention was to invigorate a debate around Vancouver's development as the public views the aesthetically rendered art and offers pause for thought in the subject matter. The following is my artist statement.
City-Seen: an unheralded look at development
The picture postcard of Vancouver is portrayed as a 21st century city set against the background of the scenic Coast Mountains. Stroll amid the canyons of the downtown office and condominium towers and there are but fleeting glimpses of this mountain vista so prized amoung its inhabitants. In the streetscapes one can marvel at the modern architecture; so many designs are unique and together they make an interesting contrast in line, shape and volume. There is however, a uniform greyness to the materials of concrete, steel and glass that make this new downtown take on an environmental homogeny that is all too clean, anti-septic and redolent of the professional class that can afford to live there.
The realtor ads for condominium developers sell the lifestyle of upscale urban living with its sleek designs, sophisticated fashions and leisured amenities along with the stunning mountain scenery. The irony is that the sightlines to the mountains may only be temporary as a new tower begins to fill the window frame.
This exhibition focuses on that condominium development. In my paintings there are scenes of demolition and construction which I hope will stimulate thought about the unfettered boom in Vancouver’s development, the wide ranging implications it has for all the city’s communities, its affordability of living space and not least its impact on the preservation and integration of historic structures.
Often there is a voyeuristic fascination with the visual pollution of demolition and construction. Excavators tearing apart old buildings or a pending implosion that draws a crowd to witness a significant moment; then months later they will return to the site as individuals to view through the little windows of hoarding the foundation work and steady construction of a new building. Do we remember what was there, why it was removed and what now is the future for all involved? Vancouverites with some history here as residents can no doubt cite many injustices of urban planning: the transformation wrought by redevelopment must first respect the existing community presenting designs for change with consensus amoung the stakeholders most affected. The planning process often does not reflect this. Long time residents, small businesses, renters and those disenfranchised by poverty lack the time or capacity to lodge challenges to the development that will impact their community.
Aside from the illustration of this commentary I have also chosen in my paintings to draw your attention to the aestheticism inherent in the apparent visual pollution of redevelopment. There are reflections in glass towers, elegance in the chaos of rubble, structure and local colour in building materials, and the wholesale effects of changes in light which I have enhanced in order to counteract the grey reality of the subject matter.
24x36 ins. Oil on wood.
I created this painting in 2007. It is my interpretation of a B&W photograph I took in 1984 of the demolition of the Fairlawn Cinema in Toronto. Searching through my old files one day I was drawn to the haphazard shapes and textures of this building in the process of destruction. As a painter more 20 years later I used colour and design to transform the original from a harsh commentary in photo documentation to one of abstract aesethics. The technique is a monochrome under painting superseded by several transparent glazes in the mid-dark and dark ranges followed by direct opaque application for the mid-tone and light ranges. The painting has many subtleties and lustrous quality and evokes a mysterious beauty to this forgotten structure.
45x35 ins. Oil on wood.
False Creek is an inlet that separates two high density districts of close to downtown Vancouver. This painting is from my own B&W photo reference taken from the Granville Bridge looking east down the creek sometime about mid-morning. I created the sunrise for dramatic effect.
37x45 ins. Oil on wood.
The first of three paintings that depict the former Woodwards department store a fixture in the once bustling commercial district in downtown Vancouver. Here I've rendered the building in a dilapidated state and populated the foreground with characters from the Downtown East Side, now a very gritty district that has the distinction of being Canada's poorest postal district. I created the billboard sign in order to juxtapose this area with the cleanliness and wealth of the Fraser Valley where Vancouver is the major metropolis. Crows regularly make their journey across the city at around 5pm each day from the West End of Vancouver to Burnaby Lake in the East. I have included the crows as a motif and set them against Vancouver's often changing skies: in this case a fast moving and active cold front.
35x39 ins. Oil on wood.
This is the second of three paintings that depict the former Woodwards department store, a fixture ot the once bustling commercial district in downtown Vancouver. This once iconic structure of almost 100 years has excavators ripping it apart, smashing up the rubble to reclaim the steel, then sorting and piling all with mechanical balletic movement. The skyscape is my own invention to enhance that movement and mirror the composition.
26x41 ins. Oil on wood.
This is the third of three paintings that depict the former Woodwards department store, a fixture of the once bustling commercial district in downtown Vancouver. The scene that I painted here shows the rubble after the implosion of the remaining buildings that were not demolished by excavators. My photo reference was daytime, a grey and rainy day. I chose to make this painting melancholic and low key so I chose to set the mood at twilight for that effect.
45x28 ins. Oil on wood.
This building was a high-rise hotel that stood near Stanley Park, in Vancouver's West End and was demolished by implosion. Once again the original photo reference was dull and unremarkable beyond its foreground movement. I enhanced the movement by adding colour to the smoke and included cranes in the mid-ground for context to the theme of the show and as a Vancouver motif another variable sky, this time dull and heavy clouding out the North Shore mountains.
46x35 ins. Oil on wood.
The Shangri-la Hotel sits along Georgia Street a main connecting thoroughfare between Vancouver's West End and the Downtown. Again from my own B&W photograph I decided to play up the abstract qualities of the reflection in the windows of a bank tower.
28x48 ins. Oil on wood.
The title of this piece, Mountain View, is an irony because the view of the local mountains from this point is now dominated by the condominium towers and the former Olympic Village which was converted and re-sold as new housing.
My art is generally based in narrative realism and as such my intention is communicate social themes as clear and concise statements with use of the aesethic qualities of traditional painting techniques.
I formulate my ideas with sketches and photo reference. I like to use photography of unremarkable scenes especially if technical errors abound; the exposure is poor, the focus is blurry, the subject appears banal and the expressions and gestures are unflattering. This kind of imagery give me inspiration to re-interpret the reference in order to create the visual drama that underlies the subject.
24x30ins. Oil on canvas.
This painting is essentially a back yard landscape. In this painting an aerial viewpoint captures the drama of a seemingly innocuous garden scene. In reality the rhododendrons are white; the name of the cat is Pink.
24x30ins. Oil on canvas.
This a bald eagle in an aviary at the Toronto Zoo. The B&w photo I took some 20 years earlier than the painting I created. The photo was poorly exposed and very much' washed out' which allowed me to play around composition and give that magnificent bird a very definite caged in feeling.
28x18ins. Oil on canvas.
This painting was inspired by a series B&W photographs I took in 1983 of the TD Centre in Toronto. Not only is it an illustration of the office towers reflected back in the windows, it is also, by the juxtaposition of the small foreground figures to the big bank, an observation on the power relationship between a corporate institute and those it serves. I have interpreted this seemingly banal everyday moment to suggest a complicit relationship, an unquestioned accord that underpins society not unlike the time when temples and cathedrals were the most influential and dominant features of our cities.
17x12ins. Oil on canvas.
This painting is my response to the 9/11 disaster. It juxtaposes the athletic figure of a nude woman in a defiant gesture standing on the American flag (where in fact The Statue of Liberty stands) against the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center. Here my commentary reflects on the Patriot Act, which was an abandonment of the American constitution in the face of those terrorist attacks, and the collective jingoistic paranoia toward the Islamic immigrant population leading up to the invasion of Iraq.
This is a painting of my father and two of his brothers working at the family forge in the heart of the Jewish diaspora near Brick Lane, Spitlefields, East London in the late 1930,s. The painting was commissioned by my elder cousin and serves as a family heirloom to be passed on.
Before I emigrated to Canada in 1982 I very much enjoyed English thoroughbred racing and would attend a track at least once a week. Amoung the photographs I had collected was a B&W of 3 of the most famous English jockeys of the 1960,s & 70's: Lester Piggot, Joe Mercer and Geoff Lewis.
Looking at this photograph some 30 years later I was struck by its potential. I decided to eliminate all of the background and set up a contrast of organic and graphic qualities. I felt this juxtaposition demonstrated the dynamism of thoroughbred racing.
To acheive this effect I chose a figurative foreground composition in startling intermediate primaries harmonized upon a graphic background of primary, secondary and tertiary colours.
A commission illustration for an authentic Italian bakery on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver celebrating 25 years serving the community.
10x59ins. Oil on canvas.
When I moved from Toronto to Vancouver in 2000 I decided to drive as it was good opportunity to see some of Canada's vast geography. This painting is of the prairies, a flat land of wheat fields stretching across three provinces. I composed the painting from many of my photos and some sketches I made of that journey, to reflect a typical rural image. The stubble fields, freight train, grain elevators, flat landscape and straight roads. My emphasis is on the sky and the fast changing weather. There is feeling of apprehension for the viewer, in the role of car driver, as a distant storm approaches.
16x20ins. Oil on canvas.
The sky in Vancouver is forever changing and from my west balcony I have an almost panoramic view downtown. Here my painting is set at sunset, a moment of only a few minutes before the clouds change and deeper colours take over the sky.
16x11ins. Oil on canvas.
The sky in Vancouver is forever changing and from my west balcony I have an almost panoramic view downtown. This painting depicts the same sky as in Vancouver Sunset #1 but about 8 or 9 later. The sky has moved from active and dramatic to subdued and serene.
This painting came about from B&W photographs I made in 1986. I was struck by the melancholy and consolation of the subject and thought it would make a good composition for a painting. I enhanced the lighting and landscape to support this melancholy and chose soft pastel as a sympathetic medium.
This painting won the 1st place award in the Surrey Arts Council Art competition.
This painting explores the human figure as it relates spiritually to unfamiliar and discordant environments. The piece depicts the struggle and enduring pursuit of an artist’s creativity in an environment of turmoil, destruction and alienation.
I have a keen interest in painting the portrait. I find that the the aesthetics of the human head have fascinating shapes and volumes that when successfully interpreted reveal the person within. I strive for a poetic realism that is inherent in the aesthetic philosophy of truth and beauty.
18x14ins. Oil on canvas.
16x14ins. Oil on canvas.
18x16ns. Oil on canvas.
22x22ins. Oil on canvas.
20x16ins. Oil on canvas.
14x18ins. Oil on canvas
The first portrait of my friend Franco from a B&W photograph I took while visiting his studio. Franco is a highly creative individual and he has a fascination with the heroics of WW2 and populates his studio with model soldiers, tanks and militaria. I have chosen to incorporate this theme into the portrait and from the background of the sky the parachutists are invading the real studio space of the portrait..
14x11ins. Oil on canvas.
This is the second portrait of my friend Franco from a B&W photograph I took while visiting his studio. Franco is a highly creative individual who likes to smoke cannabis. In this painting I have used the motive of a background audience awaiting the performance of his next abstract creation.
Throughout my practice I have found that often a sketch can be more rewarding for both the artist and the viewer. This is because it has an economy of strokes and retains a spontaneity that allows for more space in interpretation. It’s my challenge to get this feeling into a fully realized composition while still maintaining an aesthetic appeal. For this reason painting the figure from life is both the most challenging and satisfying endeavor for me.
20x16ins. Oil Pastel.
16x20ins. Oil pastel.
11x8ins. Oil pastel.
14x11ins. Oil pastel.
18x14ins. Oil on canvas.
18x14ins. Oil on canvas.
20x18ins. Oil on canvas.