Winston Wächter Fine Art, New York is proud to announce Difficult Women, an exhibition of new encaustic paintings by Toronto-based artist Tony Scherman. Visually arresting, the large-scale portraits of women layer themes from art history, antiquity, and the current moment.

Scherman employs the ancient method of encaustic painting, combining and molding wax mixed with oil paint and pigments to build up his images in what he has called “an archaeology of layers.” The mixing and melting of the wax is a slow process, but it requires a quick execution, as it dries almost as soon as it is applied. While his compositions are congruent to the styles of traditional portraiture, his treatment of materials is more Abstract-Expressionist in action, incorporating drips, broad strokes, and various materials. The resulting paintings are remarkably textured and physical.

In Difficult Women, Scherman focuses on women who have been or might be called “difficult.” This label is often reserved for women of principle and determination; it is rarely applied to men. Scherman has said, “ . . . we’re living in a time culturally where the power of women and where the presence of [a] woman as a distinct entity is of genuine interest.” The subjects are female athletes, politicians, celebrities, or women from the artist’s personal life.

The figures in the haunting portraits have powerful, imposing gazes. Presented most often as looming faces in cinematic close-ups, the women appear to float on indistinct backgrounds. The lack of resolve in the compositions is intentional. Scherman paints until he feels that he has captured the women’s essences. For example, he worked on The Unknown Suffragette (16029) for three years until he felt that he had done her justice.

Furthermore, Scherman believes that the paintings should not be fully finished, as their stories cannot be contained. With their earthy and subdued tones, the paintings appear more solemn and aged. The subjects look familiar, like pictures seen long ago, or a dream half-remembered. In his painting of Simone de Beauvoir (14063), she emerges, proud and formidable, from the darkness.

Tony Scherman was born in Toronto, Canada in 1950. He received his MA from the Royal College of Art in London in 1974. Over his nearly fifty-year career, he has exhibited in dozens of solo exhibitions in North America, Europe, and Asia. His work is held in dozens of public and private collections in North America and Europe such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Los Angeles County Museum, The Denver Art Museum, The High Museum, and the Musée de l’Art Contemporain in Montréal. He has been featured in The New York Times, Art in America, Art Papers, and American Art Collector.

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