Featured Artist: Julie Himel
May 13, 2014
Julie Himel is a Toronto painter who dwells in the personal. Her beautiful paintings are painterly and have a seductive quality of light and color. These lush domestic private spaces are of elegant dinner settings, glassware and children. As her young daughter says “…you use a big brush and use too much paint…”. This may be the case in her daughter’s eyes, yet it is the surface of rich paint that invites the viewer to reflect upon the light, the reflection and the quietness that the imagery evokes.
This lushness of application of paint can be see in her artistic influences from Lucian Freud and Tom Thomson while her domestic imagery can be traced to Mary Pratt. Yet Himel has said that in addition to these visual influences her “listening to Jeff Buckley sing “Hallelujah” reminds (her) to make every brush stroke honest.”
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of her work is the theme of presence vs. absence. In this absence there is an anticipation or expectation of arrival of the characters of the narrative. The fragility of light and selection of the delicate subjects adds to the ephemeral nature of the pieces. There is a psychological tension of expectation to this contemplation. Is there something about to happen? Or is this the after affect?
Julie was asked which five artists she would like to collaborate with. Her response was a wide variety from the graffiti type work of Jean Michel Basquiat to the California abstract artist Richard Diebenkorn. In looking at the artists she selected ( the remaining three were Alex Kanevsky, Cy Twombly and David Hockney) we can see that Himel plays a game of application of paint and subject matter. We see this becomes evident in her work as she delves into the looseness of application of paint in subjects of both her still life and portraiture.