"Looking Down"Wilf Perreault, "Looking Down," 2003, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 72".
By Amy Karlinsky
Prairie spaces have held a long fascination for artists. The wide open skies and vistas, the unique iconography of the built environment, the distinct flavour of the architecture, and the urban gardens and landscaping, particularly in winter, hold challenges for artists who work within a realist frame of reference. Regina-based Wilf Perreault meets this challenge head on.
Perreault, born in Albertville, Saskatchewan, in 1947, exhibits widely on the Prairies. A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan in 1970, he has won many awards and commissions. His serigraphs, like the paintings, feature light infused, seasonally specific, atmospheric conditions. His imagery reflects the dictum to “paint what you know.” Perreault may begin with a photograph of a back lane, but he transforms the prosaic and familiar scenes of back lanes, snow, basketball hoops, garages, roofs and evergreen trees, into mythic spaces for our consideration. We are fascinated by the realism and the illusionary effects of small details like tire tracks in the snow, or other signs of recent human passage. We cling to these realist details but we are equally mesmerized by the mythical and heroic aspects of the work. This comes from a sustained engagement with the effects of light and atmosphere. The skies open and light up. Potential passages of transformation are suggested. The artist is particularly attuned to the waning colours of the daylight and the creeping onset of night within the familiar spaces of our neighbourhoods. Perreault notes, “Those alleys are like never-ending paths that just go on forever.”
New works by Wilf Perreault are on exhibit this March at Mayberry Fine Art in Winnipeg. Perreault is also represented by Susan Whitney Gallery in Regina, Douglas Udell Gallery in Edmonton and Vancouver, and Wallace Galleries in Calgary.