TORONTO –The Thompson Landry Gallery is excited to present Lightkeepers, a solo exhibition featuring the newest works of Quebec artist Ognian Zekoff, running from November 8th – December 4th, 2018 in the Cooperage Space.
Lightkeepers will not only showcase Zekoff`s unmistakable photorealistic style, but will explore how the artist has manipulated the source of light in his works by allowing it to emanate directly from the human body.
Examining the expressiveness of hands, the delicate and intentional movements of ballerinas, and the shape of the human body, Zekoff continues to push the boundaries of traditional chiaroscuro through Lightkeepers — an exhibition that envisions humanity as a beacon of light.
In Lightkeepers, Zekoff remains faithful to his artistic style, self-defined as “contemporary chiaroscuro” (a term that refers to the exagerrated treatment of light and shadow in painting). Through his monochromatic colour palette, Zekoff is able focus on the forms and details of his chosen subjects, heightening even the smallest of details.
In this series, Zekoff manipulates the source of light, which, instead of coming from a direct source, stems from behind and within the subjects themselves. As a metaphor for enlightenment, Lightkeepers demonstrates that inner light can be a powerful force for transformation, acting as a “landmark” for someone who is in the dark. As Zekoff writes:
“It is the light that the keeper of the lighthouse, a real sentinel, who often lives in extreme solitude for days, or even months, must light and keep burning at all costs all night long. Because, without light, there are no keepers, and without keepers, there is no light.”
Born in Pleven, Bulgaria, in 1964, Ognian Zekoff graduated from the National College of Fine Arts Ilya Petrovand, as well as from the prestigious National Academy of Fine Arts, both of which are located in Sofia. Since his education, Zekoff has concentrated his artistic practice on the strong traditions of Master techniques, such as charcoal drawing, oil painting, and the use of chiaruscuro. Zekoff remains true to these classic and universal painting techniques, and as such, never works from a photograph but rather with live objects and models to paint his hands, ballerinas and subjects.
Capturing the complexity of the human form, Zekoff sees hands as the most impassioned parts of the body. By recreating them in varying postions, he presents the viewer with a range of emotional states; he illustrates how love, anger and passion radiate through the canvas to impart an emotional impact on the viewer. As one of the most difficult—and often avoided—anatomical subjects, the hands have always been used as tools for storytelling. Focusing directly on this subject, Zekoff is able to create a unique narrative specific to the emotional gesture of the hands.
In addition to his works centred on hands, Zekoff has long been fixated on the precise, strong, and delicate movements of ballerinas, demonstrated in his Ballet series. Working directly from live models, Zekoff is able to capture the contrasting strength and delicacy of their form. His photorealistic style showcases the poetry of the discipline, along with the anatomical musculature that supports and enables it; this subject matter is only enhanced by his contemporary chiaroscuro, which highlights every point and bend of the model being portrayed.
Aiming to capture a true portrait of humanity through his paintings, Zekoff is able to paint life as it is while he creates unique and individual narratives about his subjects. Perpetually inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci, along with other Master artists of the Renaissance, Zekoff aims to bring light out of darkness:
“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by light.” – Leonardo Da Vinci