Interested in history, politics and fashion, American painter Shawn Huckins is exhibiting solo in Montreal for the first time. His colorful portraits combining contemporary art and 18th century academicisme century, which are collected all over the world, finally land with us.
Posted at 8:00 a.m.
The Duran Gallery | Mashaal, by Andres Duran and Sarah Mashaal, inaugurated its new premises on Sherbrooke Street last week by opening an exhibition by American figurative painter Shawn Huckins. This one features a series of paintings with beautiful drapes that couldn’t be better suited since this space was previously occupied by the Hermès section of the Holt Renfrew store.
Shawn Huckins grew up in New Hampshire, where he still resides near Mount Monadnock. He comes from a family where men are carpenters from father to son. “I have the manual labor gene,” he says. When I was young, I was rather fat and I often drew. »
At 9 years old, when my grandmother passed away, I inherited her paint kit. But it was awful, so I gave up and didn’t start painting again until I was 16. I then had very good teachers who taught me the basics of portraiture.
Shawn Huckins took a big turn during the pandemic with this new corpus, Dirty-Laundry, which he presents in Montreal. He set aside the style of painting that made him known, either analytical or critical paintings of the United States, with political commentaries written in superimposition, an approach denouncing the current excesses of American democracy.
“I was bored during confinement, he says. I needed something invigorating, colorful, so I started painting the fabrics of the clothes in my wardrobe! One thing leading to another, his new approach was inspired by portraits of European and American painting from the 18e and XIXe centuries. Artists such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, Marie-Victoire Lemoine, Adriaen van der Werff, Joseph Highmore, Gilbert Stuart and John Singleton Copley. He then painted works where the character is veiled in colored fabrics, after placing these fabrics on sewing mannequins in his studio.
“It’s a more personal series,” says the 38-year-old artist. The paintings speak of who I am, as an artist. As a person. The colors refer to clothes that I wear. They cover the head or the body, which reveals a little my insecurity. We all have hidden traits of our identity that we dare not reveal. We often present a facade of ourselves to others. »
Shawn Huckins’ painting is neat. The shading, the softness of the arms and the skin, the delicate way of reproducing the creases and folds of the fabrics. You can see his immense talent up close. It took 12 years to achieve such mastery. “Portraiture technique is complex,” he says. The smallest missed detail can ruin the whole job. What gave me the most trouble was the color of the skin, because when it is pale, the shades do not vary much. »
Shawn Huckins, who is visiting Montreal for the first time, is represented by seven galleries. Five in the United States, one in France and Duran | Mishaal, in Montreal. He has already shown his paintings in Germany, Denmark, France, Mexico and of course in his country. It is collected all over the world. Among the works exhibited in Montreal, half have already been sold. “There are only six left,” said Andres Duran. The paintings sold will go to Singapore, London, Hong Kong or Taiwan. Thanks to his impeccable technique, his notoriety has grown a lot during the pandemic, especially with Instagram. »
To Duran Gallery | Mashaal, at 1300 Sherbrooke Street West, until July 2