For a few years now, I've been a big admirer of Elizabeth McIntosh's paintings. Though she's been exhibiting her abstract works since the mid 90s, for some reason I only got to see them relatively recently. In any case, she's debuting new works at Diaz in Toronto tomorrow, and I took it as an opportunity to ask her more about her work. Today, the National Post published a related Q&A. Here's an excerpt:
Q When you look back at your childhood, can you see any connections to your art today?
A Yes, I did lots of drawings about pattern when I was a kid. I actually titled one of the paintings in this show Cat because I got the idea from a drawing of a cat that I did as a kid. My mom had it framed on the wall, which is why I remember it so clearly. Back then, I divided the cat's body into shapes and coloured each one in a different pattern. I guess abstraction is something that's been personally fulfilling to me for a long time.
Q Vancouver is best known for photography and conceptual art. How does it feel to be a painter there?
A I think Vancouver is a really interesting place, and it's a great place to live and be an artist. But my work doesn't fit within the dominant dialogue that people hold onto. And that's not just because I'm painting; it's because my art is more based on process than on research. At the same time, you can't say painting isn't conceptual, because painting is a way of thinking--it's just not within the "tradition" of conceptual art.
I don't think I suffer because of any of this, though. I teach at Emily Carr University and I'm surrounded by faculty and students who are interested in painting and in questioning painting. I have a place to pursue what I want to do. But y'know, stuff does come up. I'll get the odd super-clever student who starts taking a class at UBC, and then argues with me about the validity of painting.
The rest of the interview, including McIntosh's comments on feeling a bit ashamed of painting at first, here.
Image of McIntosh's The Brute 2009 from Diaz Contemporary