‘Slippery images’

by Charles Mandel

An artist who originally hails from Lunenburg is in the process of making a name for herself as one of Canada's leading painters.

Ambera Wellmann is currently researching Meissen porcelain in Berlin, Germany over the next two years. The ceramics figure in her realistic canvases, the latter which are in demand; Wellmann has a full slate of exhibitions lined up for the next couple of years, including one in Mexico City.

Wellmann, 35, described herself to LighthouseNOW as a figurative painter who explores realism. She works in oil, pastel and charcoal, and also practices photography as well.

"My paintings for the past two years have explored the subject of porcelain, and the materiality of the painting's surface," she told LighthouseNOW.

"I look at a lot of Meissen porcelain and have been researching it's history. I am interested in representing the body, and the interest and practice and politics of representing the body - in particular, women's bodies."

In the fall of 2017, Wellmann won the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, which not only comes with prestige, but also a $25,000 prize. Her painting was also added to RBC's corporate art collection, joining some 4,500 other works by Canadian artists.

Robin Anthony, RBC's curator described Wellmann as "a powerful new voice in Canadian art.

"Working from a foundation of painterly realism, she curiously crops a ceramic figure, turning it into an ambiguously gendered body. Her painting dissects art history's patriarchal traditions and asserts new representational power dynamics, creating slippery images that both attract the viewer and resist easy reading."

It's high praise indeed for the artist who left Lunenburg to study at NSCAD in Halifax, which she then followed with an MFA at the University of Guelph.

Modestly, Wellmann claims: "I had not other discernible talents or skills, but art felt communicative early on, and I was a shy child. I felt visible when I was painting, and other people became visible to me."

Wellmann has been painting for about 15 years.

Wellmann is also something of an Instagram sensation with more than 45,000 followers.

In an interview with the Visual Arts News, the artist spoke about how her social media account connects her to a larger audience.

She told the magazine: "I appreciate work that is accessible to everyone and I strive to make work that anyone can appreciate on some level."

As for winning the RBC prize late last year, Wellman said that it meant a great deal to her. "I've followed the competition for many years and some of my closest, most beloved friends and respected peers have been recipients of this award.

"It feels amazing to be among them."

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