Artist David Wilson's Close to Home series summons feelings of Vancouver before the pandemic

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      The COVID-19 crisis has had an especially chilling impact on those with compromised immune systems and their families.

      Vancouver artist David Wilson knows that feeling well. That's because two members of his household fall in that category.

      It means that their bodies may not respond well to the virus—and in fact, may be more likely to trigger a cytokine storm in response to a lung infection or suffer the ravages of blood clots.

      The realization of this virus's virulence cost Wilson his inspiration to create. At least, temporarily.

      Dreams of Distant Memories
      David Wilson

      "As the news raged about COVID's ability to spread with impunity and overwhelm populations in great numbers, the thought of making art seemed so trivial, perhaps even a little bit self-indulgent," Wilson said in a news release announcing his latest show, Close to Home, at the Kurbatoff Gallery in the South Granville neighbourhood.

      "My thoughts were consumed by the crisis at hand and its implications for me, my family, my community, and the world at large," he continued. "So I stopped for a while and watched and listened. COVID created a concentrated time for introspection. Not just for me but for all of humanity."

      Wilson sought comfort in some old photographs. And when he finally recovered his muse, that led to his new series of acrylic paintings, which he calls "an attempt to time-stamp the tone of pre-COVID life in Vancouver".

      Feels Like Only Yesterday

      One of the paintings in Close to Home is a late-night image of the Dunbar Theatre on the farther reaches of the Vancouver's West Side.

      Another features the Stanley Theatre on Granville Street, showing a pedestrian trying to avoid the rain.

      The Burrard Bridge is the focal point in yet another image. 

      A Path Through the Sea
      David Wilson

      "So much of my work is about the place I occupy, where I live, or where I have been," Wilson said. "It's less about being a literal visual documentation and more of a synthesizing of what I am feeling about the time while I was there.

      "It's a very strange alchemy of representation, memory, sound, smell, and feel as I work through those moments that eventually coalesce into something tangible and visibly recognizable."