If I hadn’t lived in Winnipeg, I probably wouldn’t know about Esther Warkov. She’s a living Canadian artist who has received little attention. It’s unfortunate, because her work is fascinating. The Winnipeg Art Gallery is currently showing Esther Warkov, Paintings: 1960’s-1980’s until October 16, 2016.
I remember the first time I saw Esther Warkov’s artwork. It was a presentation of her drawings at the WAG in the 1980’s……drawings so complex one could look at them for a long time. They were unlike anything I had seen before. Robert Enright, in a review published in Arts Manitoba, wrote: In all of Warkov’s drawings, one state of existence changes into another……These transformations are often clever and occasionally unpleasant.
The show that really blew me away, though, was in 1998-1999 at the WAG, and featured what Warkov’s calls “three dimensional drawings.” Again, the work was like nothing I had seen before…or since.
House of Tea is constructed completely from paper….paper on which Warkov has drawn and coloured. Really. It was one of the most exciting pieces of art I have seen. Her skill and creativity were almost overwhelming.
As Beverly Rasporich writes in Magic off Main: The Art of Esther Warkov : This mature work is not only impressive for its technical detail and sculptural design, but also for its inventiveness as an art form……….House of Tea, which took the artist two years to construct, is all the more amazing when one considers the limited materials that were used: graphite, charcoal, pencil, conte and pastel on hand-coloured Bernier white paper.
Here are a few more images from the painting show in Winnipeg. Although there are only about a dozen paintings on view, they are large, and extremely detailed.
Please do go and see the show, if you get the opportunity. Her work is not often on view. The excellent book, Magic Off Main, is still available from University of Calgary Press.
Wow- interesting art. Thanks!
I know it! So many layers to the work. Thanks for reading, and responding.
I remember her work well. Thanks for the tip about the WAG. In November I will be in Wpg and will drop in to see the exhibit. The three dimensional piece incredible.
House of Tea has been exhibited at the National Gallery. It is incredible.
I’m sorry to say the painting show ends on October 16. No doubt there will be something else to see.
I hope you dont mind that I posted a FaceBook link to this article.
I said…Growing up in Winnipeg I was heavily influenced by the work of Esther Warkov (who seems unknown outside of the prairies). Here is a great overview of a retrospective of Esther’s work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Thanks for spreading the (art) word! Esther Warkov’s work shouldn’t be missed.
Where you saw these works were large, how large? They are powerful as show here in your blog, they must be quite stunning in person. I don’t think I’d see it before. I wasn’t around MB IN 98-99 and.her show then and if I saw her drawings in the 80’s I don’t remember it.
Her paintings here all has figures, is that generally true? The House of Tea is quite different from her paintings. Does she do a lot of this work as well, or is she primarily a painter?
The Doll’s Room, for instance, is 183.5 cm x 198.5 cm. Rolling Home to Moses is 208.5 cm x 284.5 cm. I think it’s safe to say that drawing is the basis of all of her work. Mayberry in Winnipeg has a couple of drawings available for purchase!