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Born in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1955, Carol Wainio now lives and works in Ottawa, where she is Adjunct Professor in the Visual Arts department at the University of Ottawa. She has exhibited widely in Canada and internationally, including at the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Venice Biennale, and the Galleria Communale d’Arte Moderna in Bologna. In Canada her paintings are found in major corporate, private, and public collections.
Wainio is also among the recipients of the 2014 Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts. An exhibition of the GG’s Award Winners is being presented at the National Gallery of Canada. For more information about the awards visit: ggavma.canadacouncil.ca
Dianna Nemiroff states in her forward to the catalogue for Carol Wainio:The Book, organized and circulated by Carleton University Art Gallery in Ottawa: “Carol Wainio belongs to the generation of Canadian painters whose artistic practice was influenced by the conceptual and political currents permeating the world in the 1970’s and engendered an approach to painting that was, on the one hand, marked by abstract and expressionist formal concerns and, on the other, by a desire to use painting as a means to think about representation itself as well as real-world issues. Her paintings are visually and conceptually full: layers with references to the past and present; to different regimes of knowledge; to popular and high art and their attendant modes of representation. And as paintings, they are emphatically constructed, drawing attention to the shaping and delineating character of painting and line, and shifting with ease between one spatial register and another, as well as between representational styles, each with its social, historical, and artistic connotations”.
Wainio says of her work: “Illustration has always been viewed as a poor second cousin to “high art”, a copy of sorts. The idea of illustration as nodal point or interstice between image and text, between high art and low, between original and copy, as well as broad notions of “representation” are some of the themes in this new body of work.
Focusing on the kind of transformation expressed historically through fairy tale, and more recently through “development”, acquisition, and mediation, the work explores the role that painting may still play in opening up a discursive space around history, material culture, narrative and storytelling, the idea of the copy, globalization, and historical forms of representation, both “high art” and vernacular.
Drawing in part on archival research in historical illustration, including Walter Benjamin’s Children’s Book Collection, the work also considers mechanical reproduction through the phenomenon of early hand-copied illustrations, and explores how these, in the context of Benjamin’s views on storytelling, broaden our notions of the copy.
Characters from archival collections of early tales pass through farmers ’ fields in the Asian subcontinent and other settings, where contemporary conditions may still resemble the time of Charles Perrault, or they appear with their doubles or copies in woven grounds reminiscent of crumpled decorative pages from early books.”