MARION WAGSCHAL, R.C.A.
PORTRAIT OF WALTER WATCHING TELEVISION
acrylic on board
signed and titled on the reverse
36 ins x 48 ins; 91.4 cms x 121.9 cms
Sold to benefit Historica Canada.
Marion Wagschal is a painter of subjects whose environments connote the contemporary, often the domestic and banal, but carry through them weight of history, their mortality, the things they’ve seen and been subject to. Wagschal moved from an early-career focus on biblical figures to portraits of friends, family, and lovers. These subjects are not only resistant to idealized or cosmetic treatments; on close inspection, they bear the markings of the Holocaust, AIDS, senility, enfeeblement. But her portraits are generous and full of empathy, even humour.
Wagschal paints in perfect accordance with her anemic or ghostly subjects, her brushwork and palette patchy, sun-bleached – like memory, sharp in places but hazy allover. Portrait of Walter Watching Television demonstrates her focal points, and the corresponding directives she issues to her viewers. A shallow backdrop like a darkened curtain brings her titular subject to the foreground, where a TV-set glow makes all the more apparent his infirmity, the wound near his temple. But he’s enraptured. The wires from the set are highlighted with a reverse-Cloisonné white; so too, the checks jump out from his tie. Wagschal has positioned Walter in abject isolation, in closing darkness, but distracted him with this cheap glow, a moving image. She’s brought small touches of humour to her portrait, small cartoonish marks and gestures that alleviate the portrayal’s more strident hurt.
Marion Wagschal arrived in Canada in 1951 from Port of Spain, Trinidad. She completed her education at Concordia University (Montréal), where she then taught for 37 years. Wagschal has exhibited nationally and internationally. She is an RCA member, and represented in numerous private and public collections, such as the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée des beaux-arts (Montréal), and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, ON). She is represented by Battat Contemporary.
Charles Bronfman’s Claridge Collection, Montreal