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To me, the act of painting encompasses all of who I am. Using the simplest of line and shape, the subtlest shift of color, my goal is to evoke an emotion, a feeling, a memory… initially, for me in the doing, and then again and again for the viewer. I paint what I need to paint and am delighted when someone connects to it and it changes their landscape. The horizon line offers me comfort and grounding as well as a sense of belonging. I continue to see the landscape as the root to the emotion. I paint not only what I see before me, but also what I see within me – a landscape of the imagination.
Self, place, belonging & the land have long been central themes in my work. Painting itself, by its very nature, is a singular, solitary existence. For me, it is always about retreating into my own journey – making art true to my idea, that is real & honest. I am summoning memories, telling the same story over & over again. There are no people in my work, but there is often, a suggestion of their presence, a trace of humanity. For me, the landscape is a felt experience. My aim is to express its essence. Nostalgia & personal reflections are laid bare in my tribute to the land, to the feel of the horizon & of the big sky. I have often thought my work old fashioned because it wasn’t cool or in vogue. But now, I’m happy to make a place for myself beyond necessitudes of fashion. Painting is my way of striving for knowledge of self & of the universe.
Irma grew up on a Saskatchewan farm where the prairie is never just background – nature dominates. Blizzards, lightning storms, and the overarching sky instilled in her a feeling of freedom, limitless space, and room to explore. Her predominant memory is a feeling of independence and the sky’s overwhelming presence. Although she has degrees in art and art education, she did not return to painting until 2002, and had a solo show within a year. Since April 2013 she has made her living as a full time artist. Irma continues to have an avid interest in contemporary dance. In 2005 she received the Peter Gzowski Literacy Award. Irma is well-known across BC for her advocacy in the fields of literacy, mental health and FASD, as well as her development and delivery of programs in the criminal justice system.
Photo by: #harriskuipers, #emmarossaumphotography 2020
“Irma’s prairie roots run deep and continue to guide her life and art…at first, you’re struck by her big smile and then her raw honesty draws you in—she’s one of those refreshing humans you immediately want to share a glass of single malt…”
- Laura Harris, Harris Kuipers, 2020
“… I look at Irma Soltonovich’s paintings of abstracted horizons and see things that may or may not be there; it’s a mirage, a mystery, and a map all at once. She applies paint to the canvas in calculations of sparse but effective visual cues – colours, contrasts, and geometry – so the viewer can, in a fraction of a second, place themselves into their own familiar landscape…”
- Mollie Kaye, review, July/August Focus, 2019
“… Images of barren rocks, prairie fields and it is the line that defines the edge of the sky. These elements help Soltonovich share her sense of place. They run deep. And they run wide.”
- Big Sky Country, 8pp feature, Stephanie Whittaker, MovatoHOME, Fall 2017
“Irma Soltonovich creates solid, confident abstracts. The colours are lush…the paint is thickly applied…There’s an obvious pleasure in the application of paint. Her paintings often feature a discreet hint of a horizon line that suggests interior landscapes.”
- Philip Willey, Review, 2014
“For Soltonovich, the boundary between one element and another seems to define both her artistic aesthetic and her outlook on life… Edges it seems both personal and physical are channeled into her painting. In most paintings there’s definitely a horizon line, a strong sense of where one section ends and another begins. And yet, there’s also a sense that the meaning is a bit hidden. A bit disturbing. A bit on edge.”
- “Horizons Aligned”, article, Alisa Gordaneer, 2010
2012-2020 Gallery at Mattick’s Farm, Saanich BC
2020 Pop up, KWENCH, Victoria BC
2020 Feature Artist, Tulipe Noir, Victoria BC
2017-2018 Union Club, Victoria BC
2012-2018 Random House, Victoria BC
2016 Place des Arts, Coquitlam BC
2016 Deer Lake Gallery, Burnaby BC
2016 Artist in Residence, Parkside Hotel, Victoria BC
2013, 2014, 2015 Artist in Residence, Hotel Grand Pacific, Victoria BC
2014 Full Circle Studio, Vancouver BC
2012 Painting used on CD cover for “Yes Please” ~THE BILLS, Victoria BC
2010 Dales Gallery, Victoria BC
2009 p.s. Gallery at Place, 3690 Shelbourne St, Saanich BC
2006, 2012 Massey Gallery, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria BC
2003 Skanda, Victoria BC
2003 The Galleries at 339 Railway St, Vancouver BC
2020 Fortune Gallery, Victoria BC
2020 Massey Gallery, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria BC
2017 What Comes First, Flux Gallery, Victoria BC
2004-2017 Moss Street Paint-In, AGGV, Victoria BC
2015 Cohorts - group show, Slide Gallery, VISA, Victoria BC
2012-2015 Red Gallery & Eclectic Gallery, Oak Bay BC 2013 Difference & Repetition, Slide Room Gallery, Victoria BC 2008-2011 Grey Area Gallery, Chilliwack BC
2008-2009 p.s. Gallery at Place, Saanich BC
Artist feature, Harris Kuipers Stories, 2020 Artist feature, Mollie Kaye, Focus, 2019
Artist feature, Michelle Heslop, Modern Home LOOKBOOK, 2018
Artist feature, Stephanie Whittaker, Movato Home, 2017
Co-curator: Three group shows 2014-2016, Martin Batchelor Gallery, Victoria BC Curator: 5 Artists, Dales Gallery, 2012, Victoria BC
Artist feature, Alisa Gordaneer, Harbour Air, 2010 Owner: Gallery on Herald (2007) & urbanart (2008), Victoria BC
Represented By: Sales/Rental, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria BC The Gallery at Mattick’s Farm, Saanich BC Saveur Restaurant, feature artist, Victoria BC
Education: B.Ed. University of Saskatchewan; MFA Central Washington University, WA; 12 credits towards doctorate in Art Education, University of Oregon, OR
Collections: Represented in private collections in Canada and internationally.
Photo by: Andrea Walker Collins
art stuff you may want to know
a piece of art in a show or at a studio can sometimes be difficult to envision in your own home or office.
my solution is a " sleepover".
this provides the chance to view the painting in your space, in the artificial light of night as well as early morning and mid day light. there is no obligation to purchase. the work can be delivered & stay for a day or two. if not suitable i will collect it at a convenient time.
commissions are to create paintings that meet the specific requirements of the buyer. the prices charged to not incur a surcharge and are priced at what i would charge in a general exhibition.
a payment plan is available and is usually set up over 3-6 months. there is no interest charge.
call ahead and set up a time to visit my home studio. a studio visit is an opportunity to look at works in a private, quiet setting and allows time to chat.
Photo by: Andrea Walker Collins
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