CONSTANCE BACHMANN - solo exhibition
NOVEMBER 4 – NOVEMBER 30
Sopa is pleased to present an exhibition of new work Okanagan artist, Constance Bachmann.
One of the first things you sense when you meet Constance Bachmann, is that she loves being an artist. Some artists create because they have to, like there's some internal compulsion or therapeutic release that needs to play out. Others just seem to enjoy the freedom of experimentation, and unexpected discoveries along the way. That's not to say Bachmann doesn't experience any of these things, because she clearly feels as strongly about the need to paint, but it's just that she also loves everything else that goes along with it... from the stimulation of a new process, to the pressure of completing a body of work for a show. Maybe even the challenge of finishing a commission, or capturing the light and expression just so. She also loves the lifestyle. Partnered with fellow artist and musician, Danny McBride; Bachmann juggles time between yoga and eating healthy, social expectations and networking with other artists ...with finding enough time to spend in their painting loft. Her enjoyment of this higher conscious lifestyle is infectious, and easy to appreciate when looking at her artwork. It shows through in peaceful compositions, layers and layers of unexpected color and texture; which makes us want to pick up a brush and learn to paint, so we too can share her pleasure.
'For me, the challenge is not to overwork or over think my pieces. I've been gradually steering away from still life paintings, incorporating more open spaces into my work. The newest 'Bark' series is a good example of balancing content and abstraction. Sometimes I find myself wanting to go back and rework areas on my dogs, taking the painting to a more detailed portrait style, which I'm more comfortable with. Ultimately, giving up control and working through the transition to a looser, less refined approach has allowed me to discover new strengths in my work.'
In this newest series of work, she explores the connection between the central subject and the viewer. Choosing dogs as her subjects, Bachmann naturally plays on our psychological connection to man's best friend. It's difficult not to feel a kinship. Even without the character quirks she reveals through their posture or heart melting expressions. Bachmann has a personal affinity, having her own pooch companion; so compassion transfers quite naturally with expert handling of paint, easily communicating warmth and devotion. As an artist, Bachmann doesn't concern herself with making political statements, being controversial or educating the viewer with her opinions. On the contrary, she makes her own artistic statement by showing us how she feels about her subjects, allowing us a chance to feel the same way. Stylistically, Bachmann works through multiple paint layers with a palette knife into smaller blocks and strokes of color, overlapping carefully, achieving a playful element of illustration. Using this age old technique, she's combining traditional influences with an inclination towards contemporary art.
A fan of Peter Aspell, Jylian Gustlin and artists like Dominic Besner; Bachmann admires those artists who work in the moment, allowing themselves to get carried away without necessarily knowing in advance what they're painting, but end up with something exciting. 'There's a famous quote, "a painting is never finished, it only stops at interesting places." I always keep that in mind because working with a palette knife is so unpredictable. I have to be open to change and know when to leave a stroke or when to continue. I paint each layer until I'm satisfied."
Constance Bachmann grew up among natural orchards in Kelowna, BC, raised in a large German, Italian family. Encouraged by a family member, she enrolled in art classes at Okanagan College in '82 then followed up in Vancouver at the fine arts program at Langara College a few years later. She credits her instructor at Langara for teaching her about composition and not to underestimate the importance of color. Ever since, the artists has had a fondness for hiding rich colors; which seems to be underlying and peaking through in all her work, even in her most neutral palettes... almost waiting to be released. For years Bachmann explored various painting techniques before finding an affinity with the execution and unique effects created with a palette knife. Almost two decades later, she welcomes new ideas and enjoys taking more risks in her work, but can't ever imagine not painting with a knife.
Even though Bachmann began painting professionally in Vancouver, she didn't begin painting full time until moving back to the Okanagan with McBride in the mid 90's. The artist found early success with her still life paintings, earning a reputation among collectors in North America and Europe. Today, she's enjoying the challenge of painting genuine emotion into her subject matter; and finds the freedom of open space, a nice contrast to the finer technical details required to achieve a delicate balance, between narration and pure abstraction. Feeling compelled to move forward with her narrative hybrid approach, Bachmann’s newest ‘Bark’ exhibition allows us to almost hear the subject’s vocalize their unanimous approval.
BARK will be on display through November 30, with the opening night on First Thursday, November 4th from 7-9pm.