British Columbia

Vancouver art exhibit explores rise of rage and racism

An A-frame sign with a painting of an angry, white man, which sits outside a Westside Vancouver art gallery, is a jarring juxtaposition to the spring morning calm

'They are saying stuff that is deeply disturbing,' artist David Haughton

An image of Haughton's painting, One Angry Man X – Leaning Man, sits on the sidewalk outside the Visual Space Gallery in Vancouver. (Yukiko Onley)

An A-frame sign with a painting of an angry, white man outside a Westside Vancouver art gallery is a jarring juxtaposition to the spring morning calm.

The image, which elicits double takes and stares from passersby, shows a spiked-haired man in a green jacket, with eyes bulging, mouth open, yelling in fury.

It's one of a series of portraits called Angry White Men by Vancouver artist David Haughton, who says he wanted to explore the rise of rage and evil among hate groups and some disenfranchised people.

"They are appalling images and they are saying stuff that is deeply disturbing," said Haughton of men depicted in the series.

 "The greatest paintings explore stuff that is tough to figure out."

“Look at these guys, stare them down and say ‘I’m not going to let them win,’” says artist David Haughton. (E. A. Clarke, Image This Photographics)

The neo-Nazis, angry gun activists and yelling protestors shown in the portraits are adapted from photos Haughton pulled from online news sources in the U.S., Germany, Poland and other parts of the world where hate has made headlines.

Haughton says he isn't trying to glorify the men depicted in his paintings. Rather, he wants people to study them, and consider standing up to them, no matter how frightening they may be.

"The greatest paintings explore stuff that's tough to figure out," says Haughton. (E. A. Clarke, Image This Photographics)

Haughton is a self-taught artist and has been exhibiting his work for 40 years. He often paints landscapes of the west coast of British Columbia, but mostly, he explores the darker side of life in his work. 

A retired emergency room physician, Haughton's last day at B.C. Children's Hospital was in October, 2017. The next day he cancelled his medical licence and took up painting full time.

"They are saying stuff that is deeply disturbing and often racist or anti-immigrant or anti-islamaphobic or anti-gay or all of the above," says Haughton. (E. A. Clarke, Image This Photographics)
They’ve got tattoos, they’re yelling, they’re making Hitler salutes," said Haughton, describing the paintings. (Submitted)

Haughton hopes the Angry White Men series will one day be in a museum, much like the work of his hero Francisco Goya, a Spanish painter who explored the atrocities of war, and who is considered Spain's most important chronicler of the events of his time.

"I'm not going to sell any of these, no one in their right mind would buy one of these and put them above the fireplace or give it to their Aunt Mable," said Haughton.

The exhibit runs until March 27 at the Visual Space Gallery in Vancouver.

David Haughton gave a talk and answered questions about his series Angry White Men at the Visual Space Gallery on Dunbar Street in Vancouver on Sunday March 24, 2018. (Yukiko Onley)

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