February 21, 2015 - April 11, 2015
In after, Laara Cassells melds historical and contemporary portraiture to create a series of dramatic and compelling double portraits based on paintings from the last 600 years by a range of artists from Rogier van der Weyden (1460, the Netherlands) to Jean-Louis Voille (1792, France), de Goya (1803, Spain) to Alexander Osmerkin (1921, Russia/Soviet Union). Working with downloaded images of the historical portraits from the Internet, Cassells re-stages and laboriously paints each in the manner of the original source, inserting into the picture a contemporary young person uncannily resembling and interacting with the historical subject. In place of the symbolic props of the historical portraits, Cassells poses her contemporary subjects with electronic devices such as media players, tablets, and cellphones. Cassells’ conjuring of past portraiture, both masterworks and lesser known works, gives us pause to reflect upon our enduring fascination with images of ourselves, how meaning is embedded within the specific time and place of those images, and the larger philosophical questions around how we conceive of our selves.
Laara Cassells was born in London, England and has travelled extensively, living in New Zealand and the USA before settling in Canada. She holds a Business Management Degree, an MFA in sculpture from Cranbrook Academy in Michigan and an MFA in set and costume design from the University of Calgary.
Focussing exclusively on fine art over the past 20 years, Laara has exhibited sculptures, drawings and paintings across the USA and Canada and in Europe and South Korea. She has received grants from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Canada Council for the Arts and Medicine Hat Cultural Development as well as numerous awards. Her work resides in private and public collections in Europe, South Korea, and Canada, including the Esplanade Permanent Collection of Art; Medicine Hat College; the University of Calgary; and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
after is accompanied by a publication with a text by Joanne Marion and will tour to Strathcona County Art Gallery@501 in Sherwood Park, Alberta (2015) and the Thames Art Gallery in Chatham, Ontario (2016).