Tony Scherman: A Major Acquisition

Tony Scherman, Jim Morrison (from the series The Blue Highway, 2002,

Tony Scherman, Margaret, 2002-2005.

Tony Scherman is one of the most provocative contemporary practitioners of encaustic painting in Canada. Until recently the WAG held only a single representation of his work, but in 2009 Scherman graciously donated eleven impressive paintings spanning his entire career.

Scherman’s remarkable practice began with his experiments with the genre of still life as a means to try to understand its traditions. This interest in still life has remained a constant trajectory in his oeuvre where he takes common everyday items and offers them up for serious contemplation and consideration.

In the early 1980s Scherman began experimenting with abstraction, melding it with the still life subject, although he quickly became dissatisfied with the limitations of abstraction in terms of its emotive and narrative potentials. Since that time his work has maintained a representational style, executed in luscious, heavily layered, dripped, and scored encaustic.

Scherman’s recent work focuses on major historical or pop culture events, and generally is created in very definitive series entailing exhaustive research. Several of these series rely heavily on the genre of portraiture, of which Scherman is a master practitioner. When Scherman paints a portrait the face fills the entire space of the canvas causing one to notice not only the figure but also the heavily textured surface akin to the bumps and wrinkles that are characteristic of human skin.

Seen collectively along side the WAG’s 1985 work, this body of work is about beauty, both the exquisite lightness and tortuous darkness of the human experience.

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