Artist Statement

Gordon Belray photo Om dat de werelt is soe ongetru
Daer om gha ic in den ru

(In that the world is so untrue
Therein go I into rue.)1

I work from historical film and photographic sources to create narrative compositions of significant 20th and 21st-century events and persons.

My work is situated between history painting and post-internet strategies of appropriation of the searched image and uniquely deconstructs lens-based archives using the formalism of the pre-photographic era. Combining extensive research with meticulous image selections, a comprehensive array of source material2 is digitally manipulated into a painterly tableau, retaining traces of process. I situate the work chronologically and geographically, aided by maps, street views, crime scenes and historical accounts, and additionally colorize, paint and draw on the work electronically.

I approach historical subjects, and more recently current global events, using the full scope of available recorded and archived media. While each frame indexes a specific moment in time, the composite is a fabrication of truth and propaganda, news and cinema, record and memory. The effect of re-witnessing history as a narrative landscape evokes its greater mythology. While the work borrows from classical painting genres to posit contemporary retellings of historical events, literal reinterpretations are not intended. Measurements indicate maximum print dimensions but are variable.

1 Flemish inscription from The Misanthrope, Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Rue - sorrow, mourning.
2 Usually hundreds of stills and photographs but as little as three and upward of a thousand.


email gordon.belray@utoronto.ca
Instagram @gordonbelray
Twitter @gordonbelray

Exhibitions & Publications