Birchmark: The Works of Peter Aitkens and William Hosmer
October 25 @ 12:00 - November 11 @ 17:00Free
A two man show of paintings both Realist and Abstract, the likes of which have never been seen before, at an intimate gallery in NDG. Come by for an eye-opener, join the buzz and meet the Artist.
PETER AITKENS & WILLIAM HOSNER
The Art of Alter Ego
By Dorota Kozinska
Pseudonyms are a common occurrence in the art milieu, particularly among writers who often publish under different names for a number of different reasons. The practice is less common in the world of visual art although here, too, examples are myriad: from graffiti artists such as Banksy or our own Stikki Peaches – actual names unknown -, to photographers like Brassaï (real name Gyula Halász) and Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky), not forgetting the gender-bending Marcel Duchamp as a sultry Rrose Sélavy, famously photographed by the above-mentioned Man Ray.
The idea of an artist and his/her alter ego is as seductive as it is inspirational, allowing for an artistic undercurrent to surface, subverting the creative process as it were, while channelling a different form of expression. Peter Aitkens decided to embark on just such an exciting adventure at a point in his long and well-established career that seemed to call for some creative licence. In need of a respected figure to consult about his work, rather than seeking, he created one in the person of “a 19th century artist living in the 21st”. Thus William Hosmer was born, “drawn” into life by Aitkens, insinuating himself splendidly into his reality and his paintings, the beginning of a fascinating tandem collaboration of a very unique kind. For while Aitkens retained his signature style and palette, Hosmer’s spirit proved to be unencumbered, tethered to neither time nor space, free to experiment at will. It also proved infectious.
In this exhibition, the enigmatic duo is presenting works that are unnervingly different, yet effortlessly coherent, dialoguing across the gallery space in a vibrant, visual lexicon. Aitkens tends toward the figurative, with bathers and canoeists at the heart of many of his compositions. Using acrylic on canvas, he is also adept at colourful city scenes, but it is the works “commissioned” by Hosmer that are truly intriguing. With the fictional character harking from, and enamoured of the Adirondacks in Upstate New York, its spectacular scenery has altered Aitkens’ visual expression and inspired a completely new medium. Fascinated by the feel and potential of Birch bark as a support surface, he has been creating wonderfully textured works where light plays a major role, as does nature from which the material and subject matter spring. Nature also provides the narrative in these semi-abstracted pieces, and is the thread that weaves through the entire production, whether Aitkens’ or Hosmer’s. From slivers of blue sky visible through a canopy of tall trees, to dense, light-dappled forest floor, the eye travels across each canvas as if guided by a gentle zephyr, finally alighting on the textured, at times woven from slim lenticels, compositions where abstract, almost geometric forms continue the pictorial voyage. This versatility, technical virtuosity and scope of visual expression, whimsical Hosmer notwithstanding, make Peter Aitkens a truly exceptional artist.
©Dorota Kozinska, 2018
Dorota Kozinska is a Montreal-based writer and art critic, and an independent curator.
About Peter Aitkens:
Peter Aitkens is an artist based in Montreal, Quebec and in the Adirondacks in Upstate New York. He has been a professional artist since 1974 and has shown in galleries in Montreal, Toronto, the United States, and Central and South America and has had more than 21 one-man shows.