photo courtesy of Sarah Kernohan, Open Sesame
“Algunos dicen: Nunca segundas partes fueron buenas.”
Don Quixote 11.4
Quoted in The School Days of Jesus by J.M. Coetze
Lately, painting has been for me a form of patiently looking at my body from the viewpoint of my eyes. I am interested in and aim to record the wonder of the sustained quotidian gaze. I work from the information of that gaze, using brushes and gouache on washi or silk to paint images of these private meditations. When mixing colour in preparation for a painting I am affected by the perception of these views.
I am curious of the views from my eyes of the rest of my body. Within lies a fascination with balance, weight, near and far, differences from right side to left side, focus point and periphery and – of course – colour. This mapping of a body at rest or exercise, or undergoing care informs these paintings about place, age, limitations, dreams, and realities..
Very personal, and produced in a closeted, private manner, these paintings make people respond to them with a sense of recognition of their own lived experience. It is a kind of universal poetic moment that furthers my interests into a new palette, content and context. These images help me ponder and translate issues of my person, the physical results of aging, and address change.
Whenever memory plays a large part, as in this case, great care must be exercised because if things go wrong and events are placed in a wrong sequence, then there is no correction possible except to tear up all the papers written on and begin again. And I want to avoid such a course – a real danger – because seconds are never as good as firsts.
Camilo Jose Cela, The Family of Emil Durate
Recently as I was listening to Sheila Roger’s The Next Chapter on CBC, I heard poet Janet Rogers quote the Ojbwe elder James Dumont: “The hardest journey is from the head to the heart.” Working with memory or in plein air has brought me a poetic understanding of the painting experience. We all have memories of common experiences, and I try to use these memories to make my paintings.
-Robert Achtemichuk, January 2018
I appreciate the support of the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund and the Ontario Arts Council