Corvallis Arts Center’s “Looking at Us” exhibit features works by two artists dealing with themes of life, death and hope amid the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine.
The exhibition, which will be on view until May 14, features the works of two artists who did not know each other before the show and whose work is unrelated. The artists’ pieces were brought together because they both have similar themes, according to Hester Coucke, the curator of the Corvallis Arts Center.
“Both are rooted in the reality of everyday life, but also operate from the imagination,” Coucke said. “Tim Timmerman has a Quaker Episcopal background, and his faith, his belief in Christ, is a very important part of his artistic practice… Tatyana [Ostapenko]- we programmed this show about a year and a half ago and we organized this feeling… She is from Ukraine and moved here when she was very young.
While the exhibition was planned before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, this invasion affected the show. Ostapenko began selling her work online to raise money for relief efforts involved in the war, and all proceeds from her work on the show will go to relief efforts in Ukraine. situation in Ukraine.
“I don’t understand how I was able to process what is happening in Ukraine through the web,” Ostapenko said. “My treatment is activism… This is an atrocious act of aggression against my home country.”
On the other hand, Timmerman’s art is based on the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Timmerman, some works were made entirely during Zoom meetings. He said he should keep hope alive, even in the face of death.
“I needed to hope, I didn’t hope,” Timmerman said. “It has been a difficult time over the past few years – COVID-19, politically, environmentally. I need my work to speak hopefully for me.
According to Timmerman, eight of his most recent paintings are on display at the Corvallis Arts Center. Much of his work deals with compressed time and the fact that people all live multiple lives: their spiritual life and their emotional life, among others.
Ostapenko’s work, on the other hand, has roots in the art styles of socialist and Soviet realism, according to Coucke. Although it is not the full determination of his style, he has roots in these art forms.
“If you want to oversimplify, Soviet realism celebrated sport and work,” Coucke said. “You see healthy-looking people happy to do their jobs…Some of these things weren’t necessarily considered quaint. If we have a picture of a tractor, it’s often nostalgic. If you see that in socialist realism, it’s a working tractor. It is a form of propaganda. »
According to Coucke, because Ostapenko sold so many different pieces to support the Ukrainian effort, she had to hastily make more pieces for the Corvallis Arts Center. Three of the paintings on display are not stretched on canvas due to time constraints.
“I’ve always spent summers in the countryside…I wanted to paint those landscapes, that land, before it was violated,” Ostapenko said.
Although she hasn’t always painted specifically with war or hope in mind, Ostapenko said the artist isn’t always the best authority on what a work of art is – her meaning also depends on the individual viewing it.