CURRENTLY NOT ON DISPLAY
East of Alabama 1 and 2, c. 1974
Oil on canvas
48″ x 30″
University of Regina President’s Art Collection; pc.1974.4
Esther Warkov is an artist whose canvases depict strange and beguiling fantasy worlds. She was born to a Russian father and a first-generation Canadian mother in Winnipeg in 1941. Childhood memories of her father’s leather goods and machinery business and the curious objects he sold held enduring romantic appeal, and were key to Warkov’s artistic and aesthetic development.
Hallmarks of her multi-panelled paintings are the balanced, controlled compositions that feature images collated in much the same way as a collage. Image sources include her Eastern European familial influence, Christian iconography, historical figures, insects and other illustrations appropriated from postcards, medical textbooks and photographs from junk shops. Warkov acknowledges a debt to the Surrealist movement of the 1920’s, and also finds kinship in the work of prairie surrealists such as Kenneth Lochhead (whose work can also be found in the President’s Art Collection), as well as Don Proch and Ivan Eyre.
According to the artist, her methodology amounts to free association, and while the images are often potent icons rich in symbolism, they do not necessarily amount to cohesive narratives in the final works. “When most people look at my work,” Warkov noted, “they want to know what the symbolism is—and the truth is I don’t have any.” In constructing her deeply personal, freeform images, Warkov’s paintings demonstrate something of her own interior world, and invite the viewer to reflect and let their own imagination make meaning.