Drew Bernard and the beauty of his portraiture
Ottawa based artist Drew Bernard will be having a solo show at the quaint and charming Irene’s Pub in the Glebe from December 3 to January 5 taking you into the New year with his vibrant and deep portraiture. Mr. Bernard quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with when he burst onto the art scene six years ago with his psychologically beguiling portraits that take your breath away.
A practitioner of Buddhism, he tells me that there is a kind of a beautiful sadness that compels him to paint someone’s portrait in the manner he does. This beautiful sadness can be what it means to leave a mark on a canvas.
There is a Lucian Freud impastoed ephemeral quality to Mr. Bernard’s brushwork that is akin to traces left from the unconscious, never fully formed when remembered. The rough traces left by the hand of the artist play an important role in going beyond the defined edges that frame figures in some traditional painting. Tracing leaves a mark, and Mr. Bernard’s marks are not impenetrable.
Buddhism plays with the concepts of beauty and truth, and what is truer than humans being bound by permanent limits? Yet the beauty part seems to be the fact that existence is not. The solid metaphorical line that circumferences all of life is the truth of mortality for individuals and there is no escaping from it, but can the same thing be said for being in space time?
The agile, expressive quality of Mr. Bernard’s work runs deeper than just technique. It is a manifesto of what beauty in art means. The edges of the figures in his paintings are like the imperfect perimeters forced onto life, and Mr. Bernard seems to be hinting at the solubility of those very edges. Through art, we find beauty in the idea that death cannot force limits onto life.
The late Professor Stephen Hawking wrote his final thoughts in a book called Brief Answers to the Big Questions where he theorises that the universe has emerged from nothingness, just like what subatomic particles in quantum physics have proved can happen. What is present and what is absent can emerge at the same time. What art like that of Mr. Bernard shows us is our connection with a life that defies mortality and puts us at ease. We are no longer scared, cowering in hopes of avoiding an ending, because there is no other side. There is no outside and inside. We are all one on one side, and isn’t that beautiful?
Drew Bernard’s artwork will be at Irene’s Pub December 3 to January 5. The vernissage will be held on Monday, December 3 at 7pm at Irene’s Pub (885 Bank Street) where you can meet the artist himself.