"Flight" by Aliana Au (Ernest Mayer)
I find clothing such as the down-filled parka and sheepskin coat a reminder of the strength and will of the individual to exist. Clothing can hold an essence, a residual of the person that wore it. And for my work this provides a fertile ground to explore.
—Aliana Au, artist
The Buhler Gallery's current exhibition, The Spiritual from the Ordinary, explores how ordinary objects and events can take on deeper meaning. The show features works by two major Manitoba artists, Aliana Au and Steve Gouthro.
Au likes to use ordinary objects like clothing and chairs as her starting points. SCENE asked to take us behind one of her aerial works:
Viewers' questions that come up frequently include: how long does it take to complete the painting; why do the clothes seem to be in flight; or what are the checkered patterns doing in my work? The answers to these are uniquely individual.
A painter draws from life experience and the deep well of memories, core thoughts that are unwashed by time. In painting Flight, there is so much of myself that seeks a voice from the childhood memories of my time in Canton (Guangzhou) China, the closeness of family and storytelling, and the feeling of belonging.
I retained a strong sense of my father even though I never met him. Perhaps through my father's childhood clothing which I wore. This clothing became a strong remembrance of how I would have imagined him to be.
Winter in Canada brings its own reality of hardship and isolation. I find clothing such as the down-filled parka and sheepskin coat a reminder of the strength and will of the individual to exist. Clothing can hold an essence, a residual of the person that wore it. And for my work this provides a fertile ground to explore.
The heavily insulated garments hold their forms extremely well, discarded clothes seem to retain the physical imprint and the life force of the wearer. Clothing seems to act out basic human relationships, with the inherent possibilities of emotions and memories. Clothing, being the essence of the spirit without the physical being, implies activities of the imagination. Imagination has its greatest freedom outside the confines of the body. These clothes float in mid-air, they are in flight.
The checkered patterns can be symbolic of the opposing emotions we experience: love and hatred, happiness and suffering, comfort and pain. It may resemble the chessboard on which one plays, or the canola and flax field in the Manitoba summer landscape. It is a mosaic of the different elements of life that reach out to me. Flight ultimately conveys a feeling of soaring and freedom.
The Spiritual from the Ordinary is on at the Buhler Gallery at St. Boniface Hospital until March 10.