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Mystery pervades the portraiture of Canadian artist Karel Funk. Based in Winnipeg, each of the subjects within his photorealistic paintings are disinterested in the viewer’s gaze, emblematic of their facial and bodily orientation. Rather, Funk bypasses the human figure by utilizing the fashion portrayed in his artwork as a focal point to probe into the sartorial zeitgeist of the present, and build a bridge with the traditions of portraiture from art history.

Technical nylon and polyester replace the ornate cuffs and velvet robes the past. Like a drawing within an empty notebook, Funk’s large-scale paintings are set against a white background and feature the silhouette of elaborate outerwear — from highlighter yellow raincoats, iridescent windbreakers to fluorescent pink puffer jackets. His proclivity towards this aesthetic first began when he moved to New York and started seeing a connection between the classic paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the contemporary fashion worn by onlookers.

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