Portrait of an Artist: David Wilson
An exhibition of paintings by Vancouver artist David Wilson runs at Winsor Gallery [3025 Granville Street, Vancouver] until October 9. Titled If I could have it all I would give it to you, the collection of mostly acrylic-on-canvas works offers emotive and vivid depictions of the Vancouver streetscape.
The Straight reached Wilson by phone.
What is on display in the exhibition?
These are images of Vancouver. They’re sort of loosely rendered acrylic paintings on canvas or mixed media on corrugated board. They represent different facets of the city, different times of day, night. What I’ve tried to accomplish with this exhibition is to take some of the locations in Vancouver that I’ve painted on numerous occasions and I’ve tried to create a type of language through use of symbolism…. I’ve painted images of Vancouver like the Burrard Street Bridge and I’ve thought a lot about, “Why do I keep going back to that image?” And you know, “What is it about bridges that keep drawing me back?” And so I’ve tried to delve into that a little bit and speak a bit about what’s happening in my life and my family’s life and embed some meaning into it.
When were these works created?
I think I started in late winter or early spring…. These paintings, I paint them over a period of six months or eight months but I do spend a lot of time thinking about the image prior to that. It’s part of the process that works really well for me, is that I give it some time to percolate. There’s a couple paintings in my exhibition that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years and it’s just I wait for the appropriate time to paint them.
What inspired the works?
I think that my life experience, the things that I’ve experienced over the last year and a half especially have caused me to look at what it is that I paint and why I paint it. This exhibition is quite personal so I’ve inserted a lot of references to those things that have taken place in my life in the last year and a half, two years. They’re subtle. I don’t really like to be overt in my references but it adds meaning to me and in the larger scale of things it adds meaning to others that see the work. Certainly it’s where I live, how I live, who I live with. Those things inspire my work.
What has happened in your personal life that influenced your work?
Both my wife and daughter were diagnosed with chronic illnesses over the last 18 months…. My wife was diagnosed first and then six months later my daughter was diagnosed and it was quite intense to say the least. It was overwhelming and to try and get a grasp as to what was happening to them and to us as a family, it was huge. It was a massive thing to comprehend and to deal with. Just living with the knowledge that they are more vulnerable to life than your average person, it was a bit scary for me. But as I slowly started to gain some knowledge about what was happening I was able to settle in to it a bit more, but it’s always at the back of your mind. And those things certainly had an influence on how I painted and what I thought about when I was painting.