March 3 – April 28, 2018
Opening reception: Saturday, March 3, 2018 from 3-5 p.m.
Hédy Gobaa: Végétal
Art Mûr, Montreal

Text by Marsha Taichman

Hédy Gobaa uses his immediate surroundings as his subject matter. Gobaa presents recognizable flora in a disembodied context, and the result is at once familiar and jarring. As of late and in this exhibition, he paints flowers found on walks in his neighbourhood, and others that he purchases at various florists. His production techniques are involved: He gathers or buys these flowers, photographs them extensively, and then selects and distorts about five percent of the collected images in Photoshop. He then takes a few of these warped digital images, projects them on a wall, and paints from that representation. The images are translated many times before they arrive at anything approximating the resulting paintings.

Gobaa uses digital editing to create the abstractions, what he calls the “realistic illusions” that populate the canvases. Yet there are recognizable flowers in the paintings in this exhibition: Pink carnations bloom in one work, their frilled petals at first burst forth in many shades of bright pink. Upon closer inspection, these petals dissolve into the unexpected geometry of squares and triangles. In another painting, the heads of carnations, seemingly from the same bunch as the ones previously detailed, foreground streaks of hot pink, red, white and black. The background colours are derived from the colours of the petals, stamens, and stems, and form is reduced to colour and texture. The backgrounds in these works are extensions of the foregrounds, and vice-versa.

What Gobaa is trying to show the viewer is that painting depicts derealized objects rather than actual ones, like his renderings of flowers. The photographic representations are digitally flattened versions of what once was, and perhaps what no longer is: The paintings perform a high tech memento mori. Reproductions of these works are more photorealistic than the paintings themselves. Stand before one of these large works and you see the brushstrokes, it may be easier to understand his artistic intent.

These paintings are reminiscent of the complicated, emotive works of Gerhard Richter, who can paint an abstract canvas that is challenging and interesting, followed by a hyperrealistic portrait that is seemingly devoid of brushstrokes. Unlike Richter, Gobaa’s works manage to synthesize and unify many different styles on a single picture plane, creating works that are uniquely his own.