"Memorial for the Missing" (installation View)
Acrylic on Canvas
Unframed size 77 x 36 in.
Donated to Missing Women’s Organization
Photo by Paul vanPeenen © 2002
Artist’s Comments (Artist’s Comments are intended solely for those viewers who would appreciate more information on the motivations and processes involved in each painting. They are not intended to direct how anyone might respond to or interpret my work.)
In 1990 police found evidence of missing prostitutes on a farm owned by Robert Picton in Port Coquitlam, BC. DNA identified many long missing women. Eventually Picton was convicted of murder and is now in prison.
This piece hopefully explains itself. Suffice it to say that the work is based on newspaper reports and photos of the Picton farm, and some of the victims (new victims were being found daily). Along with so many others, I had been overwhelmed by the senselessness, the pathos, the evil of what had been happening in our very neighbourhood. As an artist, I tried to come to grips with it by creating an image. This is that image.
Background for the work
For the past 30 years much of my work has examined as a major theme the changing face of landscape, contrasting the timeless movement of natural forces such as erosion and seasonal changes to the changes made though man-made forces.
My images incorporate a multitude of views in one piece; unusual juxtapositions of images and ideas, often in ambiguous spatial relationships. Sometimes a distant view will be offset with close up details of the land and foliage. In contrast, the imprint of contemporary technology on natural elements is suggested through the addition of hard-edged elements, often a grid-like formal structure which contains and provides the framework for examining a specific area. In this piece the grid takes on a whole new meaning--the actual dividing of the Picton farm property into investigative segments.
Although this piece can be hung on the wall, I intend it to be viewed on the floor; it has no actual up or down. I came upon this idea after visiting The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey. Rather than a monument soaring into the air, it was a flat slab on the floor where people could walk around it.
In the past I have done many paintings of aerial views, but this is the first time I have asked the viewer to move over and around the image. By so doing he participates in the sense of looking down on a painted record of the Picton farm, with the portraits of the victims superimposed onto the landscape.