Natasha Doyon, Helen of Troy (detail)
Heroes are empty shells without their underlying mythology. Natasha Doyon has resurrected several of our most poignant heroic figures with loose, gestural watercolours that force us to reexamine both the personae and the mythologies beneath.
Doyon’s solo show Héros & Héroïnes runs Friday, February 12 to March 28 at Karsh-Masson Gallery, with an opening reception on Thursday, February 11 (5:30 to 7:30 pm) and an artist walk-through on Sunday, February 28 at 2 pm.
The show includes 32 pieces done in ink and watercolour on Arches paper, several of which are as large as 45" x 65". Sometimes big themes call for big scale.
“These paintings are interpretations of historical figures that have definite identities,” explains Doyon. “The purpose was to enhance, exaggerate and transform their mythological personae to have access to another perspective of the individual. The loose brushwork approach was to unsettle the definite aspect as the identity.”
This exhibition represents a departure for Doyon, who had previously focused on narrative representational work.
“I wanted to work with the ideas of memories and history, so taking the work into a place that exists in between two realities was the structure I was working within; and the linear narrative no longer applied.”
“My intention was to inject a different form into these historical and contemporary figures,” Doyon continued, “to engage in a dialogue with existing personae and push them further, to once again keep them relevant.”
The works might appear loose and spontaneous, but the research and though processes that went into them were anything but. Doyon spent considerable time “going to the library and taking out tons of books on different periods in history sifting though them, and letting the figures that stood out develop into subjects I wanted to resurrect. I worked from many different source materials and in most of the paintings there is a mix of sources adding to the layers that exist in perceptions of memory and history.”
Gone, of course, are the thick oil paints, traditional canvas, and heavy, ornate frames we associate with heroic portraits.
“The ink and watercolor are transparent, fluid and lend to unpredictable strokes,” explained Doyon. “The medium was in contrast with the weighty figures I was painting.”
Judith and Holefernes
Brown Head 1