Work of Art: Partly Cloudy by Veronika Pausova

This oil painting by Toronto-based Veronika Pausova is on display at the Esker Foundation until June 26, 2022.

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Title: Partly Cloudy
Date: 2021
Artist: Veronika Pausova
Media: Oil on canvas
Size: 75 inches high by 67 inches wide
Location: Esker Foundation, 444, 1011 9 Ave. S.E.
Notes: Part of the exhibition, Veronika Pausova: Fast Moving Sun, on display at Esker until June 26, courtesy of the artist and Simone Subal Gallery. Pausova is represented by Simone Subal Gallery in New York and Bradley Ertaskiran in Montreal.

This sunny, beguiling oil painting by Toronto-based Veronika Pausova is full of playful twists. Vertical blinds hang from metal rods that span the top and bottom of the canvas, turning it into a window, but with puzzling details and strange logic. Nail-bitten fingers touch the edges of the blinds, reappearing in over a dozen spots. Each disembodied set of four fingers is meticulously hand-painted, seemingly photographic, and repeated identically like a print or a sticker. They re-enact the gesture of opening (or closing) the blinds as if caught in a time loop, while their cut-out counterparts (dark versions of absent hands) do the same. It’s an effect that suggests the deadpan humour and exasperation of Bill Murray as the weatherman trapped in a cycle of repeating events in the movie Groundhog Day.

Most of the blinds in Partly Cloudy share the vibrant yellow and dotted pattern of the central sun, as if cut and collaged from the same fabric. The subtle physical differences on the surface of the painting are evidence of the techniques Pausova employed.

Pausova, who made a splash in the RBC Canadian Painting Competition for emerging artists in 2017, builds her enigmatic images completely with paint. She likes to begin by brushing a thin wash of oil paint loosely onto a flat canvas and welcoming chance occurrences as she creates an overall pattern by pressing and blotting with scrunched fabric or paper (or, in this case, circular homemade stamps). Yellow is eager to pop forward in Partly Cloudy. If you look closely, you’ll find the yellow circle appears to overlap two of the dark graphite blinds, a trick that brings the radiant sun right into the space of the “window.”

Pausova is garnering attention worldwide, with exhibitions to date in Europe, the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Partly Cloudy was first featured as part of her debut exhibition in London, England, at The Sunday Painter in the spring of 2021. Last December, Simone Subal Gallery of New York displayed the painting at international art fair Art Basel in Miami. Currently, it is a major focal point in the exhibition, Veronika Pausova: Fast Moving Sun, at the Esker Foundation. Assistant curator Elizabeth Diggon selected the 32 paintings in the exhibition in conversation with Pausova. Drawn from active productions over the last four years, the Esker show introduces the full scope of this rising young Canadian artist.

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This article appears in the May 2022 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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