The Past is Before You

July 19 to August 7, 2022

Location: Emergence Gallery

Presented by: Arnie Lipsey

Exhibition by Arnie Lipsey, first place winner in NPCC’s IMPACT 2021 annual juried exhibition.

My work focuses on the psychological legacies that link generations. I use narrative and portraiture to explore questions of identity, and the hidden psychological motivations and patterns that undergird family mythologies. The paintings often use archival family photographs and other reference material as points of departure for this inquiry of underlying intergenerational dynamics. The free injection of colour elements, enhancing and transforming the original black and white source material, is used to intensify visual impact and to bring the past into the present. The work mines symbolism and nostalgia, without being overtly symbolic or primarily nostalgic. The viewer is invited to witness the emotional specificity of someone else’s family, and then relate it to the mythologies of their own.

The three paintings on display illustrate how the preoccupations of the past continue to resonate in the present moment. Though the viewer may be unaware of the specific back story of each image, the underlying theme of precarity is nonetheless recognizable:

In the Garden (24” x 36”, acrylic on canvas)
This painting is based on a photograph of my Father’s sister Hana, taken circa 1930 in rural Poland. Though she and her family were not unaware of trouble brewing in the world around them, they could not imagine the scope and scale of the firestorm that would engulf them in a few short years.

Deconstructed (24” x 36”, acrylic on canvas)
A portrait of my mother and her three siblings. Taken in the early 1960’s at a family reunion, they are clearly delighted to be in each other’s company. Their apparent joy belies the escape from cataclysm that ensured their survival. But no one survives childhood unscathed; Just as war leaves its historic scars, as adults we carry the legacy of a chaotic family life.

Convalescence (24” x 30”, acrylic on canvas)
A family visit with my grandmother as she was dying in what used to be called a “Convalescent Home”. We now refer to it more accurately as Hospice. At the time all the adults were in active denial, and the children were clueless; even as an emotional whirlwind bore down on us just on the horizon.

Both Deconstructed and Convalescence were awarded first prize as part of IMPACT 2021.

Arnie Lipsey, In The Garden

24” x 36”,
Acrylic on Canvas

Arnie Lipsey, Deconstructed

24” x 36”,
Acrylic on Canvas

Arnie Lipsey, Convalescence

24” x 30”,
Acrylic on Canvas