Doreen Wittenbols

I am a Dutch-Canadian visual artist working primarily but not exclusively in the tradition of figurative painting. I construct my paintings, paintings on photographs and painting installations using (personal) signs and symbols like Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait but in my own idiosyncratic way. My work explores fears and desires of/for change, memory, longing, the unknown and the unexpected – within the shifts and transitions in love, sex(uality) and death. I often paint places, the landscape and objects, using these as metaphors for vulnerability.

Recently my practice has come to include painting non-objectively, as well as, using surfaces different from traditional stretched canvas. I generally work project-based or in series. My recent work oftentimes materializes as a dreamscape or a type of in-between state, one the viewer cannot always place- whether that is a fragment of a realistic interior, a murky-coloured landscape within an abstracted vignette or a non-objective three-dimensional shaped painting inspired by a lapis lazuli gem-stone.

In my formative years and early paintings of performative self-portraits, I was fascinated by the in-between stage of the adolescent, the period of knowing and yet not knowing, a state of innocence and yet all realizing of full (sexual) potential. It is also a period of mourning – the loss of childhood and yet through an awkward, vulnerable state ready to burst out into adulthood, all the while undergoing rapid physical changes. Although I rarely paint realistic portraits anymore, the adolescent continues to be my (background) muse even when working non-objectively. I am interested in how I can articulate such a vulnerable, ambivalent, in-between state, and one of constant flux not only in the content of my work but also with oil paint… a medium that is messy, sometimes difficult, or disappointing, but simultaneously very sensual, seductive, feisty and fluid.