F or over two decades, William Fisk has created meticulously rendered oil on canvas paintings of carefully curated objects with breathtaking results and the art world has taken notice.
“The conceptual motivation for the production of this series of paintings has been to try to reach the fullness of an idea that offers viewers the means to access the contents of their imagination and its significance,” remarks William about his Portrait Series. “In creating a series of paintings that addresses and reviews a perspective revolving around a single concept, my intention is to establish the foundation upon which viewers are invited to interpret the work as a whole. As a consequence, viewers are invited to examine the formal considerations of the work in relation to the emblematic significance of its content.”
The objects depicted in his Portrait Series were purchased second hand, without any tangible reference to the previous owner. They are specific utilitarian objects - 35mm cameras, light bulbs, shoes, pay phones, trophies, furniture and clothing - that have experienced undeterminable yet indisputable human contact.
His process involves multiple layers of oil paint applied on canvas and is lengthy, taking anywhere between three months to a year to complete a single work. The scale of each painting is determined by the complexity of the subject - the more detailed the object, the larger the canvas. Fisk also employs a minimal yet nuanced colour palate consisting of ultramarine blue, burnt sienna and titanium white to convey the warmth of leather and plastic or the chill of steel and glass.
As many artists know, success doesn’t come automatically. It’s usually the product of years of struggle and risk, something William knows very well. In the short CBC documentary Fisk: Untitled Portrait, which was then followed by a second doc entitled Fisk: The New York Opening, we see the moment when Fisk receives a short email from his Toronto dealer, terminating his representation. Without notice, Fisk lost his source of income and his only means of selling work. The Toronto native was left without many options. In order to continue pursuing his dream, William had to bet on himself and risk financial and artistic oblivion.
“I learned more in the pub than in class.”
- WILLIAM FISK ON HIS TIME AS A STUDENT AT OCAD UNIVERSITY IN TORONTO
“What I find most fascinating about him is that he is the quintessential painter: a single-minded workaholic. But he is also a devoted father and husband. If he’s not painting, he is like any other regular Joe, and it’s this contrast that made him such an interesting subject for me as a filmmaker.”
- SAYS DIRECTOR ALEJANDRO ALVAREZ CADILLA
“As a filmmaker, I wanted to capture the passion and near obsession that Fisk displays as he works, but also to convey a sense of what he is like as a person,” says Director Alejandro Alvarez Cadilla.
William’s works have been shown at Forum Gallery in New York and Los Angeles, Nicolas Metivier Gallery and Christopher Cutts Gallery in Toronto and is now exhibited at the Burnarducci Gallery in New York.
Jason Stacey is the Managing Editor for Luxury Listed and forever on the lookout for a story worth reading.