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.