An escape—be it mental or physical—is meant to propel a person into a different world. Maybe it’s a trashy television show; maybe it’s a good magazine (hello!); maybe it’s a beautiful piece of art. Rebecca Chaperon specializes in painting escapes. The Vancouver-based artist creates many works involving the idea of a portal to another dimension, or an alternate space. Because she wants to take you there.
“I’m interested in fantasy and things like that that can kind of remove you from reality,” she says over coffee at Nemesis (she was impressed with their house-made almond milk). “Especially the paintings with the big portal in the centre, what I want to do is pull people out of their reality. When you’re looking at it, you’re entering the portal and travelling somewhere else.”
Chaperon’s pieces, from the whimsical Antarticus iceberg series to the mystical Tesseract crystal series, combine escapist qualities with existential ones. There’s a sense of inquisition, of curiosity, and almost of longing; as if there is more below the canvas that is pulling us in or whisking us away.
She was born in the United Kingdom but raised in Ontario, eventually moving to British Columbia towards the end of high school. In college at Kwantlen, it was the art classes that got her heart racing. “I took one drawing class and it as really hard for me—I had to convince myself that it would be okay to take art classes,” Chaperon recalls. “I loved it so much, I knew I wanted to do it, but I didn’t know how it would work or if it could be a viable job.” Still, she eventually transferred to Emily Carr, and allowed herself the freedom to explore her passion and create her own artistic voice. “When I decided to do art at school, I was just following my heart,” she explains. “I knew I really wanted it, and I think when you know what you want, that’s a very powerful thing. So I just went with it and tried not to worry.”
It seems to have worked out for her so far. Chaperon has shown her work in Vancouver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and has sent paintings to clients as far away as Qatar. Her work can currently be seen on display as part of the group show “Perplexities: Space, Form and Image” at Winsor Gallery (running until March 28, 2017). Fantastically, her pieces in the show sold even before they were hung—so they now sit on the wall next to that yearned-for little red dot.
Her work speaks to the idea that there is something larger than ourselves, and that we should push to find it, whatever it means to us. “I’m also interested in the darker, not negative, but darker side of how we live and how we function as humans,” Chaperon explains. “And I think that’s kind of the direction that my work has evolved in: looking at existential questions instead of just creating stories.” It’s the exploration of different planes, or at the very least, the belief that they exist—either in reality, or in our minds. That part is ours to realize.
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