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I spend my summers in the woods of northern BC and my winters by the ocean of NFLD. I enjoy looking closely at rocks, grasses, water and trees. The contrasts of texture and light in the ascetic white branches and the sensuous colours bring to mind many cultural allusions and in these dying pines, I was reminded of the sculpture of Mary Magdalen by Donatello. This led me to research the history of asceticism and its expression in icons, stained glass and sacred music. The pressure of growth is directed downward, giving a sense of elaborate collapse. I wanted to show something of the driving force behind growth and decay, the pressure that splits the bark and shoots out seeds and causes roots to grow at mind-boggling rates as well as the lust and hunger that drives all creatures relentlessly towards death. When a segment of nature is isolated from its context and allowed to fill the frame it's meaning quickly dissolves into a kind of natural abstraction upon which one can project interior states and explore formal considerations.

These pieces showcase the various stages between the opposing poles of formal pendulums: sketch to painting/ foreground to background/ realism to abstraction/ line and form/ depth and flatness/ colour and grayscale. Branches go in and out of positive space creating a dynamic interplay between the perception of background and foreground. The images are cropped to appear realistic as a whole but abstract in the details. With these pines I wanted to ride that thin line between the abstract and the recognizable. The process of the painting's creation can be retraced through its successive stages as portions of each stage have been preserved in the final piece. The highlighted branches are carved out with a dremel, gesso is applied, the surface is rubbed with charcoal and finally paint is applied in layers and sometimes allowed to flow through the grooves.

I see these images in the context of the long history of religious painting. Like early Islamic and Jewish sacred art, they are non-figurative  and non-narrative attempts to grapple with and question lofty themes through blotches of colour and texture and the flow of lines which occur in nature. They are based directly on my photographs which allows for the minute observation of forms that can lead to abstract thought. In Byzantine Icons and medieval stained glass the rhythm created by shapes and the "chords" created by colour were meant to reflect the music of the liturgy. I was also influenced by early polyphonic music and the notion of contrary motion, in which one melodic line is in ascension while the other descends (in spite of frequent crossings, the principal voice remained the lower).  The progression of the stark, bonelike branches expanding and dividing is reflected in the insatiable creative appetite in nature and art for ornamentation and illumination until it reaches a rococo point of over-saturation. This point of immobility in the musical context is referred to by Marcel Pérès as a symbol of "eternity fecundating time", which sounds lovely. Trees certainly have a long symbolic history in mysticism, but I want to remove them from their mythological connotations and illustrative traditions and focus on their physical presence. Trees are a mute witness to physical reality. They put us in our place.    


The idea of over-growth terrifies me. As a child, I had reoccurring nightmares that were purely abstract. They involved intricate, overlapping tangles and knots, infinitely dividing deltas, vein structures and nervous systems. I felt trapped in the extravagant rank fecundity of the world and all that dizzying detail. I am not sure why this was so frightening, but these dying pine trees sent a familiar shudder down my spine. I suppose it has something to do with what Annie Dillard describes as "the teeming evidence that birth and growth, which we value, are ubiquitous and blind, that life itself is so astonishingly cheap, that nature is as careless as it is bountiful, and that with extravagance goes a crushing waste that will one day include our own cheap lives...". This series is a reply to this feeling and a reconciliation of opposites, an attempt to portray a controlled chaos, a measured excess, a sensuous asceticism, an abstract realism.



Recent Exhibitions

March 2010

2004                                    Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
                                             Concordia University. Montreal, QC
1999 and 2001                    Painting and Drawing
                                             University of Victoria. Victoria, BC
2009 Member's Show. Eastern Edge Gallery. St John's, NL. Group Exhibition.
2009 Aurora. Red Ochre Gallery. St John's, NL. Group Exhibition.
2008  Pines. Francophone Cultural Center. St John's, NL.Solo Exhibition.
2008  Member's Show. Eastern Edge Gallery. St John's, NL.Group Exhibition.
2007  Member's Show. Struts Gallery. Sackville, NB.Group Exhibition.
2007  Leaves. Gallerie Luz. Montreal, QC. Group exhibition.
2006  The Layered Light of Dusk. Gallery Luz. Montreal, QC. Solo exhibition.
2005  The Background People. Gallery Luz. Montreal, QC. Solo Exhibition.
2004  Hands Up. Art Mur. Montreal, QC. Group Exhibition.
Media Coverage
2009   Reeves, Charissa. "David Kaarsemaker, Realism Painter". The Current, Dec 11, 2009.
2009   Sullivan, Joan. "Dancing with Colour". The Telegram, November 20, 2009.
2007   Manning, Juliet. "Day and Dusk". The Argosy, November 8, 2007.
Grants and Awards
2009               Government of Newfoundland and Labrador: Purchase Award.
2009               Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council: Project Grant.
2004               Du Maurier Council for the Arts Grant.
2002-2003.    Bank of Montreal Undergraduate Scholarship. Concordia University
1998-1999/2000-2001    Entrance and Undergraduate Scholarships. U of Victoria
Relevant Pursuits
2009     Boardmember: Eastern Edge Gallery, St John's, NL.
2009     Artist Talk: Eastern Edge Gallery, St John's, NL.
2009     Set Painting and Design for Rising Tide's Festival in the Bight, Trinity, NL
2009     Set Painting and Design for Rising Tide's annual Review, St John's, NL
2008     Set Painting and Design for South Pacific, St John's, NL
2008-2009      Painting instructor, St John's, NL
2007-2008      Painting instructor, Sackville, NB
2001       Mural Painting and Design, City of Surrey, BC
1999       Mural Painting and Design, City of Surrey, BC.