Reasons to be cheerful

(Canscene) — Collection favourites and significant works never before displayed at McMaster are presented in Oil cloth lunch, and other reasons to be cheerful, the newest exhibition at the McMaster Museum of Art. The proposition of this exhibition is to examine how artists learn from the past and yet distance themselves from it in order to “advance” a visual language for themselves.

Oil Cloth Lunch by Tony Scherman

The exhibition’s starting point is Oil Cloth Lunch, a 1977 painting by Canadian artist Tony Scherman. In discussing this work, Scherman spoke of the historical “burden” of painting. In order to find a place for himself, and radically shift his painting language, he began using an encaustic medium and a flat overview pictorial space. Through that process he learned and later returned to painting’s history. In a similar vein, Eric Atkinson responded to the question why he began using sandpaper as a support in the mid-1940s, with, “Why not?” Instead of attempting to paint sand, it was his radical solution to a historical problem.

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