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Peter Shostak, I don’t often wear this dress

Peter Shostak, I don’t often wear this dress (2016), oil on canvas [West End Gallery, Victoria BC, Sep 10-22]

Peter Shostak: 125 Years of Ukrainian Culture

West End Gallery
ictoria BC – Sep 10-22, 2016

Peter Shostak, I had to bring this dress to the New Land

Peter Shostak, I had to bring this dress to the New Land (2016), oil on canvas [West End Gallery, Victoria BC, Sep 10-22]

This, Peter Shostak’s first solo exhibition in Victoria, coincides with the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada. Shostak is a first generation Canadian born to Ukrainian immigrants in the small town of Bonnyville, Alberta. A true Canadian experience indeed, and one well told in this series of 25 canvases. These moderately sized oil paintings are true to form for a Prairie boy raised on a small family farm during the 1940s and ’50s. One feels a sweet complacency in the surety of cold winters and warm summers and in a mom and dad who worked hard. Human lives nestled, cozily, within large natural settings are the essential subject.

Revealing an interesting synthesis of a Joe Fafard-style sensibility and a Jack Shadbolt kind of looseness, Shostak’s paintings are an evocative and iconic experiment in Canadiana. Having lived on Vancouver Island for nearly four decades Shostak’s vision has broadened to include not only prairie nights and snow scenes, but also gorgeous sun-drenched West Coast beaches alive with wild flowers and the rushing ocean winds. However, his most effective works may be the interior scenes closest to his beginnings. Here we see austere clapboards, geraniums on the windowsill and an embroidered dress, creased but fresh, hanging in the stillness of an empty room.

Christine Clark


 Sat, Sep 10, 2016