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the waves are at my feet and I will do my best to make you proud, 2012-2013

Jon Pylypchuk
Canada, 1972
mixed media on panel
152.5 x 213.5 cm
Purchased 2014
National Gallery of Canada (no. 45985)

Jon Pylypchuk begins his expressive paintings on wood with washes of watercolour ink onto which materials of all sorts are applied: pigment, spray paint, fabric, resin, sand, glue, glitter. As in his sculptures, the artist’s paintings often feature puppet-like characters joking around and getting into mischief. Here, a black felt figure stands in the middle of a muddy, mountainous landscape, his beady eyes cast toward a piece of paper held in his hand: an emotional letter written to the artist’s father that ends, “and I will do my best to make you proud.” Revealing a son’s feigned hopes for returned fatherly affections, this is a key painting within Pylypchuk’s oeuvre. THE LETTER: dear dad, i’m sorry i didn’t stand up for you more when you were in the hospital and that i didn’t make them realize that you were not as sick as they thought. i am also sorry that i didn’t make those bastards at the mortuary apologize for overfilling you with embalming fluid. i know you always tried to look your best. the waves are at my feet and i will do my best to make you proud. love your son, jonathan

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