Another Perfect Day comprises a snapshot of Janet Werner’s production over the last ten years that is invested in reinterpretations of the historically established practice of portraiture. This collection of work favours a deeply internalized, subjective, and subverted interpretation of generally accepted concepts of beauty. Figures inspired by high fashion images—often beautiful in an unconventional sense—are delivered here as spectres laden with complex psychological and physical attributes that defy anatomical accuracy, pictorial truisms, and logical understanding.
Werner focuses on the fictional portrait as a vehicle to explore notions of subjectivity and desire. Her paintings operate within and against the genre of conventional portraiture, taking found images of anonymous figures in popular culture and imbuing them with fictional personalities. The process of painting is a way of investigating the iconic power of the image, invoking imagination, memory, and projection to invest nameless figures with human subjectivity and emotion. The final paintings are composite portraits that retain aspects of the original while also embodying notions of transformation, innocence, and loss.
These paintings offer an argument between beauty and the grotesque, where the figure itself has become the site of contest. Folded, cut, occluded, or altered, with colours ranging from luminous to ashen, and scale shifting from pixie to giant, Werner’s figures are otherworldly. There is a subtle suggestion of alchemy or witchcraft in these portraits, though it is not clear if these beings are the ones casting spells or the ones upon whom the spell is cast.
Presenting over 35 works, this exhibition is organized by the Kenderdine Art Gallery | College Art Galleries, University of Saskatchewan and is the only western stop on this Canadian tour.
This touring exhibition is supported by Canada Council for the Arts and Saskatchewan Arts Board.