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Hot Art: Artist Spotlight, Karel Funk

Karel Funk Untitled #19, 2006 Acrylic on panel 78.7 x 61.0 cm Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal © Karel Funk, Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

Karel Funk Untitled #19, 2006 Acrylic on panel 78.7 x 61.0 cm Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal © Karel Funk, Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

Winnipeg- born Karel Funk has garnered international attention for his paintings of lone hooded figures. These intimate and abstract explorations have been displayed at prestigious galleries including the Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum and the National Gallery of Canada. The first retrospective of his work taken from public, private and corporate collections across North America is on now at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Funk describes his style as rooted in Renaissance portraiture, contemporary urbanism and photo realism. In 2001, he moved to New York to complete his Masters of Fine Arts at Columbia University. “I was taking lots of art history classes and I was going to the MET quite a bit. I loved looking at the details of the brush strokes.”

His hyper-realist portraits were further influenced by his experience on crowded New York subways, where he became intrigued by facial details of fellow riders. His fixation with ear lobes and hair follicles of strangers merge intimacy with anonymity.

A single image can take up to two months to complete. Funk’s technique involves layering, at times, more than 100 thin semi-transparent coats of acrylic paint on a wood panel to capture folds in jackets and strands of hair.

His recent work removes the human form, further masking identity and creating a sense of mystery.

The installation, a collection of 24 pieces, will be on exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery from Jun 11-Oct 2. 300 Memorial Blvd, 204‑786-6641

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