Doris Purchase, born in Winnipeg, is a Toronto-based mixed-media artist who has degrees from Ontario College of Art and the University of Guelph. Her work has appeared in multiple Toronto galleries, including Propellor Art Gallery, where she’s also a member. Doris has participated in the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and received a Jury Award from Latcham Gallery in 2018. Doris’s work is predominantly conceptual and draws on the materiality behind a painting. Through her practice, she focuses on artists’ materials to invoke conversations about western ideals and question our value system.
Part sculpture, part painting, these pieces are inversions. They are about unearthing what’s obscured to bring raw materials of a painting to the fore. Coming from a formal, traditional painting background, I had never considered the materials to be of any great significance, until the day I was intrigued by a brass hook. I wondered why it should be hidden; I wanted to make it the focus.
My work shifts our attention away from an image on canvas and onto individual components that comprise a ready-to-hang painting. When canvas, wire, staples and gesso are the centre of interest, the viewer can contemplate the myriad sources that form a piece of art. I draw attention to manufacturing of supplies, taking into account those who harvest cotton that creates canvas or dig for metals that form wire. Also crucial are the sunshine and rain that give life to trees, and the people who fell trees that later turn into frames with their gold and filler.
In the series, Wire Landscapes, I had used picture frame wire to create horizons, trees, and sunsets. The materials have essentially broken free and taken over. At the same time, I exhibit the main components of a traditional painting, paying homage to my roots and education. I have recently further expanded on this idea by breaking materials into smaller components—I literally cut the stretcher—and unmake. I also want to take a stance and be critical of my process of art making.
I hope to express the dichotomy of strength and fragility in my work, through bringing attention to the world of hooks, eye pins, staples, and wood—materials that are normally hidden by the gloss and glamour of the art, but without which, the art would not exist. I hope to also look deeper into the materials, their impact and the impact of my practice.
Doris also provides workshops for parents and their preschoolers.