Janet Werner: Abby and Snow
Works in the exhibition
"In my studio I am surrounded by thousands of images taken from fashion, celebrity culture, cinema, hairdressing magazines, 50’s pinups and popular culture. There are also stuffed animals, thrift store paintings, dolls, figurines, children’s books and art books both historical and contemporary featuring the figure. I am obsessed by faces and eyes, especially eyes, eyes that look at you and eyes that look away; wide-eyes, staring eyes, knowing, sad, unblinking eyes. Like a baby’s primal stare, the eyes draw you in, an electric connection that won’t let go."
Janet Werner’s work as a painter focuses on the fictional portrait as a vehicle to explore notions of subjectivity and desire. Her paintings operate within and against the genre of conventional portraiture, taking found images of anonymous figures in popular culture and imbuing them with fictional personalities. The process of painting is a way of investigating the iconic power of the image, invoking imagination, memory, and projection to invest the nameless figure with human subjectivity and emotion. The final paintings are composite portraits that retain aspects of the original while also embodying notions of transformation, innocence, loss.
Werner was born in Winnipeg and lives and works in Montreal where she teaches in the Department of Studio Arts at Concordia University. She holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Werner has shown widely in Canada including solo shows at the Art Gallery of Windsor, SBC Gallery, Montreal, The Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, The Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, The Ottawa Art Gallery and Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg. Internationally her work has been featured in solo presentations in Cape Town and Cologne. Her work was recently included in the survey exhibition Oh, Canada, at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass (2012) and in the PaintingProject/Project Peinture at Galerie de l’UQAM (2013). A solo exhibition of her work, Another perfect day, was recently presented at Galerie de l’UQAM in Montreal and will travel to the McIntosh Gallery, London and Doris McCarthy Gallery, Toronto in 2014-15. Werner’s work is in the collections of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Musée du Québec, Musée d’art contemporain, Owens Art Gallery, Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Mendel Art Gallery, Winnipeg Art Gallery and numerous corporate collections.