Dil Hildebrand

Born in Winnipeg, MB, 1974.
Lives and works in Montreal

My work has always dealt with a theatrical tone of representation. The florid colours that streak down the canvases function alternately as stage curtains (acting as the membrane that separates the audience from the “action”: obscuring it, hiding it, framing it) and as filters familiar to the techniques of film/ video and photographic image production. This obfuscation creates a dynamic of voyeurism in the work as viewers are invited to look through and beyond this intermediate layer to a distorted yet curious reality out of reach.

Just as the photographs of my studio are architectural, so are the curtains of colour that “hang” in front, as they frame and orient the body. The scale of the paintings lends the impression that one might be able to enter the picture, underscoring the painting itself as a structure akin to an object of architecture – a building. The photograph takes on the role of the backdrop, hanging in the back of the picture space as it would hang backstage in a theatre setting.

The choice of the studio as the background image relates to the idea of the painting as a mirror of its own making. Having been made in the same studio they depict, the paintings gain the effect of reflecting on their own origins. While the choice of the studio as the image gives the paintings a sense of immanence – they depict what is “here and now” – the fact of the photographic origin of the image imbues this relation to production with a dreamy, “elsewhere” quality.

Studio D 2010
oil on canvas 213.6 × 184.4 cm
Purchased 2011
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Photo © NGC

Builders: Canadian Biennial 2012 exhibition catalogue
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa