Wedding Window

Alkyd on Canvas,
102 cm x 153 cm (40" x 60")

In progress

This large oil is of a window display from Toronto’s Holt Renfrew, a work thematically related to other mannequin paintings in the Window Series, such as Trinity or Knights and White Satin. The white lingerie of Knights is here repeated in an explicitly bridal context; once again, the absence of a human figure reinforces the easy association of femininity with costume. The painting explores the surreal iconography of the bride, the extent to which biological women can be excised from the picture without compromising its intelligibility. As such it is related to a long line of bridal paintings, from Jan van Eyck’s Marriage of the Arnolfini (1434), with its concentration on textiles and symbolic objects, to Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (1915), in which the woman disappears completely, to become a collection of machine parts and clothes. The bridal imagery also incorporates the painting into a thematic group of the artist’s recent works which concern festivals or ritual events. These works include the implicit Easter reference of Meat Market on the Danforth, watercolours of the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral Portal at Aix, through which a viewer must pass to attend mass, or the sign in Chinatown Window II advertising a rice dish traditionally offered in the spring to commemorate one’s ancestors. All of these community-defining rituals can be conveyed without recourse to the human figure.

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