November 10, 2012 - January 6, 2013
Carol Wainio works within the long and venerable artistic tradition of populist storytelling, illustration and social commentary. Her rich canvases are at once haunting, clever and sly, a little like the fairy tale characters who populate them. Wainio's assured and supple use of acrylic paint creates an impressive range of detailed effects: from fluid to precise and realistic. The paintings are theatrical in their narrative, costume and staging elements, but it is a theatricality in which the characters have broken the imaginary fourth wall. We feel we are witnessing an active event in which figures appear to be leaving or entering the scene, or interacting with each other in mysterious ways.
Wainio displays a post-modern sensibility by blending history and modernity, eastern and western folk tale traditions, and political, vernacular and high art representations. Her work comments on socio-political issues such as consumerism, mass production, and globalization. She is influenced by the illustrators, cartoonists and social critics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, specifically the French caricaturist Grandville and the German-Jewish philosopher and essayist Walter Benjamin. This influence is apparent in her meticulously rendered human/animal hybrid figures placed among vaguely industrial structures or in front of mirage-like urban skylines.
A central figure in many of the paintings is the folk trickster Puss-in-Boots, whose cleverness in transforming his poor master's fortune through the deceitful acquisition of a fine suit of clothes makes him a useful metaphor. Wainio uses this story and other tricksters, like rabbits, foxes and jesters, to great effect in her exploration of the problematic nature of marketing strategies, media bias, corporate sleight-of-hand, and political maneuvering.
Carol Wainio lives in Nepean and teaches Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa. She has exhibited widely including at the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, the Venice Biennale, and the Galleria Comunale d'Arte Moderna in Bologna. In her spare time she blogs on matters of journalistic integrity.