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Canadian artist Mark Igloliorte paints a series of ‘growing and experimenting’

Thursday 28th, May 2015 / 17:37
By Kaelan Unrau
Painter Mark Igloliorte wants to make you see double. Artwork: Mark Igloliorte

Painter Mark Igloliorte wants to make you see double.
Artwork: Mark Igloliorte

VANCOUVER — Mark Igloliorte comes across as something of a paradox. On the one hand, he’s an avid skateboarder with a penchant for indie rock. But on the other, he’s an academically trained artist who endowed his most recent exhibit with the (apparently) highfaluting title of “Diptychs.”

But actually speak with the man and the paradox resolves itself. In an age of critical jargon and market-driven connoisseurship, the truth of the matter is that Igloliorte harbors a genuine appreciation for art, whether it be of the traditional or contemporary varieties.

“I’m really thinking about what kind of culture you take on in your life and what kind of culture you’re born into,” explains the Newfoundland-born painter. “For example, skateboarding is something that I chose to pursue. But my family history, my being Inuit: this wasn’t my decision. I think it’s interesting to bring those two things together and see where they overlap.”

Like one’s personal identity, Diptychs – a series of works stretching back five years – is also the product of both choice and necessity. But it all started following a chance encounter with a phonebook.

“I had some old phonebooks on my studio table,” says Igloliorte, “which I’d use to wipe my brushes on. On kind of a whim, I began painting on them. It was initially just a way of testing things out. But the more I used them, the more I liked it.”

Around this time, the artist developed an interest in the diptych form, wherein two separate images combine to make one single artwork. Yet the move toward working with pairs was as much practical as theoretical.

Artwork: Mark Igloliorte

Artwork: Mark Igloliorte

“When I work, one of the most time-consuming things I do is mix the colours,” he says. “I’d been investing so much time coming up with local colours, trying to recreate what I was seeing. I figured I could work on the brushwork twice as much if I worked on two paintings with the same colours.”

On a more philosophical level, Igloliorte suggests that the diptych provides a means for disclosing the many assumptions that go into a painted work.

“A representational painting is a fraught thing,” he says. “There are so many issues – of time, of location, of artistic decisions. All the things that go into it. Sometimes these things are self-evident. Other times you take them for granted. But when you take two paintings, you kind of pull that apart. You gain an insight into the decisions that go into making an observational work.”

He zeros in on a particular pair of images. “I’m looking at one set of paintings I did of a cave,” he says. “The horizon line is about two-thirds of the way down on one and half-way across on the other. It’s a small distinction. But these two paintings – although similar – have a very different feeling. I find this kind of thing very interesting, and these diptychs are my way of sharing this interest with other people.

He continues: “Even if I’m trying to get it exactly the same, it’s an impossible thing to actually accomplish. I mean, there’s so much variation between what I’m making and what I’m intending to put down. Those intentions never line up with the finished product.”

Ultimately, Igloliorte employs the diptych as an exercise in both technique and perception.

“In a lot of ways, I look at the series as a way of growing and experimenting,” he says, “and trying to get as much out of the process of painting as I can. For me, it’s a really good place to be working from: always looking at it as an experiment and always trying to discover something new to work on.”

Mark Igloliorte’s Diptychs runs June 4 to July 28 at Grunt Gallery. For more information, visit www.grunt.ca.

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