Nori Braig, Lazar Christian Fonkin, David Ip, Iwona Sarnecka-Dabrowa

The Portrait Show

March 22 - April 28, 2001

David Ip, The Life of a Janitor
The right model is hard to find. But in recent years, this has all changed. I have found my perfect model: my colleagues.

For nearly 20 years, I have worked as a custodian at an educational institution. Between the day, evening and night shifts, there is somewhere between ten to fifteen workers that are my colleagues, some of whom are from far away lands. Every one of them has a very interesting anecdote about themselves, which is where I derive my ideas for my paintings. Mind you, it is not my intention to tell their story. I just try to turn their daily events and experiences into motive, and then use colour, line and form to depict their emotional inner life.

This janitorial profession is generally regarded as a very menial position. Furthermore, janitors may seem to some as being awkward, withdrawn, sluggish or even squalid in appearance. But in the end, they all have character. I hope that through my paintings, I can give the viewer a glimpse of what my colleagues may feel or experience on any day at work.

Iwona Sarnecka-Dabrowa 

My aim is to paint actual people.

I have always found representations of human beings fascinating. In my opinion, the greatest power of the human image is that it can be interpreted on a subconscious, instinctive and emotive level. I also believe that surroundings and mundane objects are charged with human presence to such a degree that in portraying the human subject, they become as important as people themselves.

The examination of ordinary experience and the exploration of mundane existence is my goal. By representing a person in a shallow space, I obtain a sense of isolation and heighten the emphasis on the subject. This method helps to eliminate unnecessary visual detail. The concentration on a figure alone as a single subject of interest is challenging, and at the same time very appealing to me. I have also found the frontal view particularly compelling, since it is more confrontational than voyeuristic.

Nori Braig 
I have done these portraits of people over many years. Sometimes it’s a process of time, where portraits literally disappear. They then lose their external appearance and find it in another form. This gives me a glimpse of their soul.

Nori Braig moved to Canada from Germany in 1977. She lived in Toronto until 1985, when she moved to Vancouver. She has exhibited across Canada, and currently works with dry point, watercolour, and oil sticks as her primary mediums.

Lazar Christian Fonkin, Robust and Gentle 
Our head is a natural computer with a face as a monitor. Every expression of the face is a signal to another computer of the same nature. Art is the highest level of communication in our spiritual sphere. Our spiritual sphere is a dematerialized common pool of our creative values in which we want to honestly reflect our Self. Art cannot only be an abstract play in and of itself. It is a concrete communication between human beings using ourselves as an understandable language to express messages of internal spiritual processes. Art has an enormous ability to express intuition, freshness, and variety according to situation and time.

My name is Lazar Christian Fonkin. I was born in 1939 in Nisus, Serbia. Upon graduation from art school, I taught art, as a high school teacher for several years. In 1976 I left Europe to settle in Vancouver where I have been living ever since. I attended the Emily Carr College of Art, graduating in 1981. In the last 20 years I have been working mainly in wood with steel reinforcements. My artistic goal is to re-establish human forms as a major focal tool in our artistic language and communication.


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