WAG Celebrates Winnipeg’s Own Karel Funk

Winnipeg, Manitoba, June 9, 2016: The Winnipeg Art Gallery is proud to feature contemporary painter Karel Funk in the largest and first true survey of his work. The Winnipeg-born and -based artist has received international attention for his mesmerizing portraits of lone figures clothed in contemporary gear. The public is invited to attend a free opening on June 10 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. The exhibition runs at the WAG until October 2.

“Karel Funk mixes components of the secular and devotional portrait with the still life while maximizing the viewer’s engagement with his paintings. They’re stunning!” states Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO. “The WAG is Winnipeg’s art gallery and what could be better than being able to showcase one of Winnipeg’s own.”

Applauded as “outstanding” by The New York Times, Funk’s paintings are held in collections of major museums, from the Guggenheim and the Whitney in New York to the National Gallery of Canada and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This exciting display brings together works from private, corporate, and museum collections from across North America. 

“I’m very excited and honoured to be having my first solo show in my home town at the WAG,” states Funk. “Everyone at the WAG has done a tremendous job bringing this show to life and I can’t thank them all enough. Thank you also to my family, friends, and the Winnipeg arts community for their support and enthusiasm.”

The figures that populate most of Funk’s works are influenced by various painting traditions, from the Italian and Northern Renaissance to Photorealism and Contemporary Urbanism. Using acrylic paint, Funk builds his portraits through a glazing technique, often taking months to complete one painting.

The subtle evolution of Funk’s painting practice begins with his meditative portraits of hooded figures, responses to the conflicting sense of intimacy and anonymity the artist experienced on New York subways. In his most recent work, the human form is abandoned. In its place, a coat or hood is painted with the same care and detail, as abstract images of folds and seams.

“Karel Funk’s paintings are unapologetically contemporary,” comments Andrew Kear, WAG Curator of Historical Canadian Art. “In an age of mass surveillance and the 24-hour news cycle, Funk’s hooded avatars hover between expressions of anonymity and individualism, alienation and concealed delinquency, touching on themes of social conformity and spiritual transcendence.”

A fully illustrated publication accompanies the exhibition with critical essays by WAG Director & CEO Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Curator Andrew Kear, and Jarret Gregory, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The exhibit coincides with the premiere of a short documentary on the artist, directed by Winnipeg filmmaker Caelum Vatnsdal. The free screening will take place June 12 at 2:00pm, followed by a panel discussion with Funk, Vatnsdal, Borys, and Kear. June 15 will feature an Art for Lunch talk presented by Funk. Guided drop-in tours of the exhibition are scheduled on June 19, 25; July 9, 31; August 6, 28; September 10, 18. To view all programming details, visit wag.ca.

The WAG is grateful for the support of Title Sponsor Michael Nesbitt, and sponsors Gerry and Barb Price, the Winnipeg Free Press, and CBC Manitoba. Visit wag.ca and for the latest updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. #karelfunk

For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Catherine Maksymiuk
Manager, Media & Marketing
Winnipeg Art Gallery

Tammy Sawatzky
Public Relations Coordinator
Winnipeg Art Gallery

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a cultural advocate – a lens and forum – helping people see and experience more through art. Playing a vital role in the community, engaging and enriching people of all ages and backgrounds through art and culture, the Winnipeg Art Gallery thrives as a creative, innovative, and accessible place for learning, discovery, and inspiration.



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