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The Best of Life

 

We all have a relationship with the past.  Be these memories positive, negative or neutral, they are all inaccurate.  We distort events mentally as a matter of course as soon as they have happened, and the further they recede in our private histories the more distorted they become.  Considering how influential our individual pasts are in framing our personal presents, how we recall an event can have dramatic consequences upon our engagement with our present and future lives.  The Best Of Life explores the dangers of our nostalgic, romantic, and distorted relationship with the past and its impact on our present lives by drawing contrasts and parallels between a halcyon era of history and contemporary Western life.

When Jay Senetchko’s grandmother passed away in December 2012, he was given her collection of Time Life magazines from the 1960s, an era she had once described as being “the happiest of her life”. This declaration, combined with the name of the magazine, forms the title of this series.  Each painting is based on images clipped from the magazine pages. The images are cut away from their associated text and new narratives are formed by recontextualizing them into black and white, and colour collages. Selected images are then transformed into paintings that are part collage, part photograph and part painting, maintaining distinctions between each medium while drawing parallels between them.  The goal in both the creation of the collages and the paintings is not a faithful depiction of either an historical or fictitious event, but the creation of a new narrative for exploration and interpretation. The viewer is welcomed to wade through confusing and sometimes contradictory visual information in an attempt to make sense of what they are seeing.

The result are pictures that are unbalanced and uncomfortable, and simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar as they visualize the pathological nature of the North American dream. Through the reoccurring themes of nuclear family, violence, racial tension, labour and leisure the dreamlike aspirations of a 1950-60’s North America are presented, but never reached. Rather, they parallel many of the social tensions and obstacles we face today, but in unsettling, and at times nightmarish iterations.

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