A running theme through my work is the past, whether it be recollections of memories, nostalgia or histories.
I met up with an old friend recently, and it got me thinking about how revisiting the past can be important in understanding our present. This goes for life and also for my art, as I sometimes forget about certain paintings I did in the past, and it’s like unearthing a treasure when I find them again. All the memories, thoughts and ideas that went into the artwork pop up again in my mind. And then sometimes there is a sudden epiphany about where a “new” or current idea I am working on actually came from.
In 2000, when I first arrived in Paris with my fellow UBC Fine Art classmate Jessica Gabriel, we found a postcard of Picasso’s “Les Saltimbanques”. It is not one of his most famous paintings, so it is actually very hard to find the painting online or the proper title of it. It was painted in 1901, with Picasso’s famous harlequin figure and his companion. When Jessica and I first saw the postcard, we said, “That’s us!”, bought the postcard and then quickly forgot about it, with all the excitement of living abroad for the first time.
By the end of that year, after many highs and lows, our Paris adventure was coming to a close, and we thought it would be fitting to recreate the painting. So with some art school creativity, we managed to pull together some towels and blankets and rummage through our closet and art supplies to recreate the look of the painting. With a limitation of 24 shots on our roll of film, we were determined to recreate the painting in a photograph, but quickly got bored of that and well, here are the results:
After we returned to Vancouver, the series of photographs was exhibited once during our final year at UBC and then put away and forgotten about. While I was working on my Painting Film exhibition, with my Art History series, I revisited this series of photographs and thought about the process of turning a painting into a photograph, or in this case a series of photographs, and I decided to paint the photograph and return it to a painting. Here is a photo of the painting in my London studio. Unfortunately I can’t find a photo of the finished painting on my computer at the moment, so this was a work in progress shot:
Jessica and I then revisited the idea in 2007, after I moved back from London and we were both in Vancouver again. Some ideas were thrown around but nothing came from it. I am almost positive that it will come up again in the future, and new work will spring from the past.