Urban Legends

Thank you to everyone who attended the opening of Urban Legends at the Alex Dufresne Gallery on April 6th. It was wonderful to see you all, and to hear your comments on my portrait paintings. With gratitude to Natasha, Beth, and Beth for your work in administrating and mounting the show.

The Artwork and Critical Essay:

With Thanks To Jane Agnew:

Portraits of Urban Legends

The artist Stephanie [van] Doleweerd has redefined the concept of portraiture. Now the image contains a variety of objects and creatures often superimposed on the subject of the ‘Portrait” creating a narrative or biography of the subject.

The viewer may attribute their own inferences to these additions to the “portrait” and offer a symbolic interpretation. Visitors to this exhibition will be tasked with understanding both the subjects represented in the images but also the artist’s relationship and opinion of the subject depicted. Does a corona or halo around the subject’s head offer a note of grace, charity or does it offer a religious connotation?

Do the devil-like horns on this “portrait” contradict the halo element or does it simply indicate a dichotomy of character? Are these added elements a judgement by the artist of the subject’s qualities or are they characteristics self confessed by the subject ?

Does the hatchet held by the subject in another “portrait” lend a certain sense of capability to this subject or perhaps it is a weapon to be regarded as symbol of defiance? A bird is perched in the palm of one hand, while a stag looks on from the background. A canine stands closely beside the subject implying a certain friendliness, so perhaps the subject intends to protect these creatures with the hatchet.

Most of the images depict the subject with creatures from the animal kingdom. A portrait of a female is depicted with a pair of ravens and a fox. The stained glass rose window surrounding the female’s head counters the sly trickery of both the fox and the raven.

The black outlining of most of the elements in this composition give a leaded glass structure to the image Dark outlines were often used by the native artist Morisseau to connect elements in his compositions as though the line formed a flow of communication between the creatures he depicted. Here [van] Doleweerd seems to use the dark lines to separate background elements from the creatures depicted in the composition.

A defiant male in a baseball cap raises a sledge hammer aloft, while a starry night and perhaps northern lights are created in a leaded glass window behind him. The ancient “Ouroboros” symbol of a snake eating its tail surrounds the starlit halo around his head.

While the snake implies eternity or rebirth * the “Valknut” symbol of three interlocking triangles seen behind this man has by historical Norse references an association with Odin and death during battle. Perhaps the artist wishes eternal life for this warrior who may die in battle with his sledgehammer. If so Odin may ferry him to the underworld and then bring him back to the world of the living.

The interlinked triangles of “Valknut” is an ancient symbol seen on carved stones found on the island of Gotland near Sweden dating to the 7th century AD. Their complete meaning remains in dispute.**

by Jane Agnew
Jane’s Pottery Factory

This show opens on April 6th , 2:pm – 4:pm and runs to May 4th
The Alex Dufresne Gallery is open Tues. – Sat. From 10am. – 5pm.

The Gallery and the Artist gratefully acknowledge the financial support
of the Ontario Arts Council’s Exhibition Assistance Program.