Shary Boyle

Beast (Highland Series), 2007

Shary Boyle
Beast (Highland Series)
Dimensions and medium
Oil on panel, 40 × 35 cm
Purchase, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program
Artwork description
Shary Boyle painted the Highland series following a visit to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, where she discovered portraits of illustrious historical figures in traditional clan tartans. To achieve this series, she uses a classical technique of applying thin pigment and varnish in successive layers onto a wooden panel. Playing with the formal conventions of Baroque portraiture, her paintings illustrate characters and creatures inspired by Scottish stories, whose fictional nature is offered as a counterpoint to the commemorative register (linked to reality) of historical genre painting. In Beast (Highland Series), she merges a reference to the portrait with the motif of the bestiary. A grimacing dog-like figure occupies an off-center and slightly lowered position, which has the effect of destabilizing the gaze. There is tension between the visibly wacky subject, and the refined style of the rendering.

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