Artist Liana Russwurm was born in 1966 into an artistic family in Elmira, Ontario who always encouraged her creative side. Liana lived in Vancouver for a time and as well as in Montreal and has spent time working in a glass studio and owning a small glass business. Liana moved to Alvinston in Lambton County after discovering a vacated church for sale in the area. The church now stands as her home and studio.
In Montreal, Liana came to a turning point. "The idea was that once I had more money, I could focus on painting. Years passed and I didn't have time to paint and became very unhappy. That's when I decided I had nothing to lose and quit everything to return to school," Liana says.
In 2002 Liana moved to Toronto and enrolled at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). Her final year was spent in Florence and we can still see the influences of Italian masters like Caravaggio in her "style (which is) reminiscent of his use of light and dark, and his goals to show physical as well as psychological reality." - Liana Russwurm
“My paintings in The Weird and the Wonderful… explore the imagination and residual imagery we retain from childhood,” says Liana Russwurm. “Imagery we access on an ongoing basis as we grow, one that plays a role in the way that we see ourselves as adults.”
“Liana begins by staging her compositions with models, make-up and props. Liana has an interest in masks, vintage dolls, puppets and marionettes – which stand as important figures in her arranged scenarios. She works from digital images that act as a sketch for the finished oil paintings,” says gallery Associat Director Danielle Hoevenaars.
The photos are, “a visual reference for the impressions left from the ruminants of this psychological clutter of our childhood,” says Liana.
Liana says of the finished works: “The result is a series of paintings that, although rendered beautifully through detail and vibrant colours, will leave the viewer not sure of how they feel. “
See the full collection of her work at Westland Gallery starting October 4th and hear more from Liana at our artist talk on October 12th.
Zaan was born in South Africa in 1970. As a child she moved from Pietermaritzburg to Pretoria, to Rustenburg, to Jeffries Bay, to Stellenbosch, to Harare and finally settled in Cape Town. Zaan's last year of school was spend in Oxford, Ohio as an exchange student. She then returned to Stellenbosch to complete her BA Degree in Graphic Design. She spend the next decade in Northern Alberta before moving to the Island of Saipan for a couple of years. From there, it was back to South Africa and then onto Canada.
Today Zaan splits her time between Cape Town where her home is nestled between mountains and ocean and London Ontario where she enjoys her space next to the Thames River.
"As an adult, I am in love with the detail and beauty of the natural world," Zaan tells us. "There exists a pure love and adoration for the creative process, from first contemplating something beautiful - be it a thought or a thing - to analyzing it, to capturing, reproducing and recreating its essence."
"Nature continues to inspire me and my current focus is on water and light and the interplay between them." The result of Zaan's fascination with the charming, joyful relationship between these to elements are the large scale waterscapes we see in "The Weird and The Wonderful", opening on October 4th. They are powerful, energizing pieces that stand as reminders of genuine beauty and the simplicity of pure joy.
"I find there is so much pain, heartache, suffering, stress, misery, fear, violence, unrest, and horrow in the world that we should make our homes and sanctuaries places of beauty, filled with beautiful art. I hope that those who view my artwork will be uplifted by it," says Zaan.
See the full collection at Westland Gallery on October 4th.
Hear more from Zaan on her fascinating life and work at our artist talk with Liana Russwurm on Wednesday October 12th at 7:00 pm.
“Salon style” or “gallery style” refers to the hanging of artwork of side-by-side and one over another as seen in the picture to the left. This trend has been resurfacing in interior design and has long been a feature at The Art Exchange – Westland Gallery’s sister company down the street. With our upcoming exhibition, “The Art Exchange at Westland Gallery” we will be featuring a salon style wall. We want to share a little of the history behind the term with you.
The term “salon style” comes from the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture’s regular exhibitions which began in Paris in 1667 (Sawinsky). In order to showcase the work of so many students, the academy hung paintings as close together as possible, right from the floor to the ceiling! When the exhibition moved to the Salon Carre at the Louvre in 1725 the show became known simply as the “Salon" (Sawinsky).
Despite mixed feelings about Salon from many artists of the time, it is important to acknowledge the Salon as a stepping stone in the development of public art museums. It was an early opportunity for the general public to see important artwork.
As Salon style was the fashion in which public museums and galleries displayed art throughout the 19th century and into the early 20th century. It was also very popular in interior decorating at the time, and could be seen in the homes of impressive collectors (Sawinsky).
As with all things, the Salon style hang evolved over time and work began to be displayed more sparsely, though still far from what we are used to seeing in galleries today. The new ideal was to keep work at eye level so that the viewer might better interact with and contemplate the paintings.
Throughout the time of the salon and modified salon style hangings, the wall colour was not the stark white we are so used to today. Grayish-greens, and even red tones were popular (Sawinsky). As more and more space was left between the paintings, the colour of the wall was reconsidered moving through lighter tones to eventually arrive at the crisp white and widely spaced artwork that is now most common.
In today’s interior design world, you may not hear the term salon but instead “gallery style.” This fun and expressive trend is having an resurgence in today’s home decorating. We love the opportunity this provides to showcase multiple pieces from your collection in one room. Do you have a gallery wall in your home?