Artist of the Week – Fiona Ackerman

Posted on January 28, 2013 · Posted in Artist of the Week

WOMAN BY A WINDOW – 2012 – Oil on canvas – 120cm x 180cm, 71” x 47”

Fiona Ackerman’s painting style frequently changes and reinvents itself. Energetic canvases with random and vigorous marks and brushstrokes are juxtaposed with tighter more precise images that are far more figurative. These figurative paintings usually have a visual twist. Ackerman’s use and choice of paint is varied. She’s equally as happy with oil, acrylic or spray paint, this varied approach to her canvases create an exciting breadth and diversity in her work.

In 2009 Ackerman received and honorable mention for the Kingston Prize for Canadian Portraiture and was included in Carte Blanche 2: Painting, as survey and showcase painting in Canada (published by The Magenta Foundation, fall 2008).

In her own words

LA MODÈLE ROUGE – 2012 – Oil on canvas – 160cm x 140cm, 55” x 63"

Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background and how you became an artist.
My name is Fiona Ackerman. I grew up in Montreal, moved to Vancouver when I was 20 and have recently been living in Berlin. I don’t remember deciding to become an artist. My father is a painter in Germany, and as a teenager I would fly to Europe to attend his summer courses. I studied fine arts in university (Concordia and Emily Carr), and by the time I graduated, all other ideas had completely fallen away. Painting was what I could do best, and what I wanted to do the most.

Your recent work has been created on relatively large scale. In your opinion, how does the scale of the work effect the subject matter?
I think scale has the most practical implications in my abstract work. The large pieces allow for much more physical, active brush strokes, energetic splashes of colour can only be gotten by actually throwing paint around. However, I also have an ongoing series of small paintings done on paper. Here, drastic changes happen much more often simply because the brush is so powerful on a small piece. Here a lot of surprises happen, and often compositions are worked out that I then take to the larger pieces.

BETRAYING THE ADAMIC ACT 2012 Oil on canvas 140cm x 90cm, 35.5” x 55”

You live in a beautiful and dramatic part of the world, where ‘the outdoors’ is a big part of peoples lives in BC. Does this effect your work, and if so how?
Vancouver (and British Columbia) is really a beautiful part of the world. A quick hike in the mountains exposes the eye to a palette of greens you will never find in a paint tube. But at heart I am still much more a Montreal-er. I’ve been living in Berlin for six months now, and it feels strangely more familiar. I’m not really a go-getter socially, so I enjoy life that comes right at you just by walking down the street. Like in Montreal, everyone seems to be grabbing a quick coffee break from working on his or her life’s work.

What motivates you and why?
For me, painting is as versatile and open as music. Paint can do anything and be anything you make it, but like music it doesn’t work to just hammer at the piano keys. You must first figure out what key you’re playing in, and then work within it. It’s all composition. I’m motivated by always wanting another song.

PROJECT HABAKKUK – 2012 – Oil on canvas – 130cm x 200cm, 78.5” x 51”

What elements do you find most challenging in your work?
The most challenging part of my work is trying to make a career out of it. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there in really uncomfortable ways, put your work in front of people who don’t necessarily want to look. But things have been positive for me so far, and these hard parts have been worth it. The motivation for this keeps me at it: to be able to continue to spend my days painting.

THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM 2012 – Oil on canvas 140cm x 90cm 35.5” x 55”

What concepts are you currently exploring and what will you embark on next?
At the moment I am about to open an exhibition at Galerie Steinrötter in Münster, Germany. Over the past year and a half or so, I have been looking at the concept of ‘heterotopic space’ put forth by Michael Foucault, and how it can be applied to the artists’ studio. The paintings in this show, and the ones in my last show at Winsor Gallery (Vancouver) have just been published in a beautiful new catalog produced by the two galleries (I’m thrilled!). Exploring this theme has opened a well of new and related ideas for me. I am now deciding which direction I will go in first.

Born in 1978, originally from Montreal Fiona Ackerman moved to Vancouver, BC, to study Fine Art. She is a painter currently living and working in Berlin. Since completing her BFA through Concordia and ECIAD, Fiona has exhibited across Canada and in Europe (Germany & France). She received an honorable mention for the Kingston Prize for Canadian Portraiture in 2009, and was included in Carte Blanche 2: Painting, a survey and showcase painting in Canada (published by The Magenta Foundation, fall 2008).

All images courtesy of Fiona Ackerman

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