Things You Won’t Remember is a collection of oil paintings housed at Les Territoires until mid-February that explores the universal desire to collect and conserve memories. The exhibit, created by artist Yshia Wallace, also examines the impact of the media through which memories are portrayed and the fascination we have with our “recorded” selves. Inevitably, Things You Won’t Remember engages the viewer in unexpectedly intimate ways.
The paintings are based on printed images of a damaged VHS tape of Wallace and her family. The artist digitized the VHS footage, which was originally filmed in the 80s, and reproduced the digital stills down to the finest details.
“We compulsively preserve our memories” Wallace notes. She explains, “It’s in our human nature to explore ourselves.”
Wallace believes that we attempt to film, record, and write our daily lives since we consciously or subconsciously know that these moments will someday offer an important perspective. Despite having evolved away from them, these older versions of ourselves offer a comparison of where we were, where we are now, and where we may be going.
“We have the capacity to project forward and backward, and we use it to suggest things about ourselves. We use our pasts to build evidence of who we are now and where we may end up in the future.”
The exhibit has many layers of meaning. At a more personal level, the viewer is taken in by the scenery, if only for a moment. Just as Wallace sees pieces of herself in the young girl and the family she painted in Things You Won’t Remember, the viewer immediately sees beyond the faces in the paintings and is drawn into an intimate moment of self-reflection. Wallace”s child-self throws us all into our own investigation of who we were, what happened, and where we are now between the candid moments of childhood and our intellectualized and rational adult selves.
This exhibit can’t be typified solely by the emotional movement it creates in the artist or its viewer. The paintings are intricately crafted to mimic the disintegrated image of the VHS footage as closely as possible. As a person that is very attentive to detail, Wallace selected each image she intended to replicate from the VHS video based on colors and composition as stand-alone pieces.
“The VHS images are low resolution since they’re a couple decades old. I used oil paint to contrast and bring depth to the images.” She elaborates, “In the video footage, the images are wavy and the colors aren’t right, so I replicate this by using bright pastel oil colors with glazes to magnify the color.”
From a few feet away, the canvases are so vivid that we expect the people depicted in them (such as a child in the arms of his grandfather in Kingston) to start moving, the dark spots of their shadows spreading and merging with each other in real time like the original video footage.
“Just that [captured] moment, it may have been good or bad, but the only thing that’s certain is that it’s no longer.” Without specifically intending it, her technique and her talent bring the images back to life.
Don’t miss Things You Won’t Remember @ Les Territoires Gallery (372 St. Catherine W. suite 527, metro Place-des-Arts), which will be on from Friday February 4th to February 19th. For opening hours, check out www.lesterritoires.org.
This sounds like a really great exhibit, really nice write-up too Andrea!
I like the idea of using the VHS stills as a basis for an artistic reimagining of memory and one’s history.
Thanks Ethan, appreciate the feedback!
If you’re at all an art fan or an artist yourself, you’ll want to check out Yshia’s techniques for recreating the stills. Impressive and beautiful!