It is a homecoming of sorts for Karel Funk.
The artist was born in Winnipeg, educated at the University of Manitoba, before pursuing his MFA in New York.
He continues to call the city home, but his work is hung in some of the art world’s famed galleries, including the Guggenheim, the Whitney and the National Gallery of Canada.
Funk says he’s thrilled to have his first solo show at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
The paintings pick from historical and contemporary art movements, including the Northern Renaissance and Photorealism.
Looking at the canvas you may mistake it for a photograph, but Funk says, closer inspection will tell you otherwise.
“When you see the paintings in person, they are not carbon copies of a photograph. You can see mistakes in them, I think that there are sometimes areas where you can see it’s quite painterly, you can see layers of paint piled on top of each other.”
Traditionally, portraiture has the subject gazing at the viewer through a veil of paint.
Funk’s inspiration comes from our very dense living conditions, sometimes described as Urban Voyeurism.
The faces of his subjects are obscured, hidden or are not directly engaging the viewer.
“I thought that could be an interesting way to create a portrait with that kind of experience, where the person in the painting is looking away is completely unaware of the viewer coming up to the painting and looking at the individual. I think that disconnect is also a very urban experience we have.”
The works sometimes take months to finish.
His methodical process echoes the down to earth personality of the Winnipegger.
“Definitely, the technique that I’ve sort of created for myself the way I apply paint, it’s because of my personality that I’ve developed it that way. So, I can be sort of slow and methodical and plan things out.”
His sure and steady voice is as true and as exacting as the paintbrush that dances in his hand.
We often do not recognize a master until his or her time has passed.
Today, one is walking the streets of his hometown and will be celebrated at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
The show continues until October 2nd.