Robert Achtemichuk: selfie
at Open Sesame
January 19 - March 11, 2018
"Lately, painting has been for me a form of patiently looking at my body. I am interested in and aim to record the wonder of the sustained quotidian gaze. I work from the information of that gaze, using brushes and gouache on washi or silk to paint images of these private meditations. When mixing colour in preparation for a painting, I am affected by the perception of these views.
I am painting the body as it extends itself into space from my eyes. Within lies a fascination with balance, weight, near and far, differences from right side to left side, focus point and periphery, and—of course—colour. This mapping of a body at rest or exercise, or undergoing care, informs these paintings about place, age, limitations, dreams, and realities.
Very personal, and produced in a closeted, private manner, these paintings make people respond to them with a sense of recognition of their own lived experience. It is a kind of universal poetic moment that furthers my interests into a new palette, content, and context. These images help me ponder and translate issues of my person and the physical results of aging, as well as address change.
Recently, as I was listening to Shelagh Rogers's The Next Chapter on the CBC, I heard poet Janet Rogers quote the Ojbwe elder James Dumont: 'The hardest journey is from the head to the heart.' Working with memory or in plein air has brought me a poetic understanding of the painting experience. We all have memories of common experiences, and I try to use these memories to make my paintings."
—Robert Achtemichuk, October 2017
Robert Achtemichuk acknowledges the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund for supporting this project and the Ontario Arts Council for an exhibition assistance grant.
About the artist:
Born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Robert Achtemichuk holds a fine arts degree from the University of Manitoba and pursued further studies in France and Mexico. Achtemichuk is a former executive director of Open Studio, the Waterloo Regional Arts Council, and the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery. He recently received artist grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund to develop and exhibit paintings. The artist also received the Board of Directors Award of Excellence from the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in 2012 and the 2015 Machteld Faas Xander Visual Arts Award from Arts Awards Waterloo Region. Achtemichuk lives and works in Kitchener.