Do I Know You? | Edify.

Think of the word “portrait,” and you’ll likely imagine the paintings hung in castles and in the hallways of government; statesmen and stateswomen, kings and queens, captured in an eternal state of boredom. They stare forward, with eyes that you’d swear follow you around the room.

But that’s not what you’ll find at The Red Brick Common Public Art Gallery in Stony Plain. Do I Know You? is a collection of portraits from seven Alberta artists: Agatha Chacinski, Jose Bilo, Harry Singh, Yulin Wang, Amanda Komarniski, Tere Cuellar and Kira Chankasingh. And what you’ll find are renditions of life that are anything but regal, staid, or boring. Subjects are playful or thoughtful, and are caught in the acts of living their everyday lives.

The painters capture subjects in the act of sex, sleeping or listening to a favourite songs. They represent them as gods. And, Chankasingh’s work, especially, turns the very idea of portraiture on its ear. She blots out her subjects’ faces in a series of brushstrokes — the anonymous forms scream out against the vanity of portrait commissions.

And that’s what makes these works so accessible: These portraits emphasize humanity over the need to have one’s image captured for the ages. They’d look terribly out of place in some old castle — and that’s a good thing.

Access portraits of humanity until July 30 at Red Brick Gallery.

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