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Portraiture from Harris, Burke, Poitras, Blackwood

Submitted by Pan Wendt

Brian Burke, Portrait of Libby OughtonThe goal of a portrait is to produce a likeness of the subject, whether physical or psychological, mediated by the expressive interpretation of the artist. But those portrayed are rarely passive actors in the exchange that takes place when a portrait is made, says Confederation Centre Art Gallery curator Pan Wendt. Through pose, attitude, costume and other means of self-presentation, sitters always influence the end result, he notes. The active involvement of subjects in the creation of any portrait is the focus of Holding the Pose: Portraits from the Collection, a new exhibition presented by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery.

Featuring works from the gallery’s permanent collection by artists from across Canada, Holding the Pose demonstrates the complexity of the interaction between artist and sitter through a wide variety of portraits in various mediums. From PEI, painter Brian Burke’s evocative portraits of local literary figures Milton Acorn and Libby Oughton to the work of David Blackwood, Marion Wagschal, Edward Poitras and others, the exhibition reflects the richness of the art of portraiture in the country.

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery’s collection also includes a significant quantity of works by one of Canada’s definitive portrait painters, Robert Harris, and the work of Harris will feature prominently in the exhibition.

“In the work of Robert Harris, we encounter an incredible richness and subtlety brought to bear on the craft of portraiture,” says gallery Director Kevin Rice. “In the context of this exhibition, we have a great opportunity to see how the artist approached the vibrant subjects of his paintings, and how they played a role in the final result.”

Holding the Pose was curated by Pan Wendt.

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