Join us as Robert Achtemichuk speaks about his current exhbition, Selfie, at Open Sesame.
"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