CONCURRENT: VITALY MEDVEDOVSKY & JAY SENETCHKO
Rebuilding, renewing and re-inventing are three main themes that result when placing a Medvedosky oil painting beside a Senetchko oil painting.
Vitaly Medvedovsky’s work constructs an invented personal mythology by combining autobiographical events with imaginary or fantastical elements. He works on individual pieces for extended periods of time, adding, erasing, and moving things around, often ending up with a result that is radically different from the original starting point. For the artist, this deconstruction and rebuilding has certain parallels to the way time itself functions, gradually distorting an historical fact by alternatively adding and omitting from it, until one is no longer able to separate fact from fiction.
Vitaly Medvedovsky’s most recent series of paintings was completed in Berlin, where the artist currently lives and works. Medvedovsky is the recipient of the 2009 Joseph Plaskett Award, and the 2012 Toronto Arts Council Emerging Artist Award, his work has been exhibited in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Berlin, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
My painting is based is part of a larger series I'll exhibit at the end of the year called The Best of Life. All the imagery is based on collages I've made from1960's Time Life magazines. It has a personal dimension (it's a development from my last series that was deeply indebted to my relationship to my paternal grandparents and their involvement in the oil and gas industry), but is more generally about the dangers of nostalgia and the romanticization of halcyon eras of history (1960s North America in this case) in their capacity to act as guides for contemporary life
We all have a relationship with the past. Be these memories positive, negative, or neutral, they are all inaccurate. We distort events mentally as a matter of course as soon as they have happened, and the further they recede in our private histories, the more distorted they become. Considering how influential our individual pasts are in framing our personal presents, how we recall an event can have dramatic consequences upon our engagement with our present and future selves. The Bets of Life explores the dangers of our nostalgic, romantic, and distorted relationship with the past and its impact on our present lives by drawing contrasts and parallels between a halcyon era of history and contemporary Western life.
When Jay Senetchko’s grandmother passed away in December 2012, he was given her collection of Time life magazines from the 1960s, an era she had once described as being “the happiest of her life”. This declaration, combined with the name of the magazine, forms the title of this series. Each painting is based on images that are cut away from their associated text. New narratives are formed by recontextualizing them into black and white, and colour collages. Selected images are then transformed into paintings that are part collage, part photograph and part painting, maintaining distinctions between each medium while drawing parallels between them. The goal in both the creation of the collages and the paintings is not a faithful depiction of either an historical or fictitious event, but the creation of a new narrative for exploration and interpretation. The viewer is welcomed to wade through confusing and sometimes contradictory visual information in an attempt to make sense of what they are seeing. The results are pictures that are unbalanced and uncomfortable, and simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar as they visualize the pathological nature of the North American dream. Through the reoccurring themes of a nuclear family, violence, racial tension, labour and leisure, the dreamlike aspirations of a 1950-60’s North America are presented, but never reached. Rather, they parallel many of the social tensions and obstacles we face today, but in unsettling, and at times nightmarish iterations