[attach]1266[/attach]The Portrait Society of Canada’s upcoming exhibition pairs past and present Canadian athletes with some of the country’s finest portrait artists.
Running March 2–26 at downtown’s John B. Aird Gallery, Canadian Olympic Athletes: A Dialogue in Art features 33 portraits and two sculptures by such esteemed artists as North York’s Veronica Kvassetskaia Tsyglan and midtown’s Susan Makin.
The participating athletes are diverse, as they represent a spectrum of sports from both the summer and winter Olympics.
Athletes include short-track speed skater Nathalie Lambert and 2008 Beijing Olympic judo champion Sasha Mehmedovic.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the portraits will go to the athletes represented in the artwork.
“We intend to give the public new and memorable images of highly esteemed athletes,” says Tsyglan, the society’s founder and chair.
“We need to support Olympic spirit in Canada.”
The Yonge and Sheppard resident feels the upcoming show allows the artists to delve into the most important aspects of portraiture: exploring physical characteristics and the emotions behind them.
Athletes, says Tsyglan, are the epitome of fitness and dedication.
The show also presents a wonderful opportunity to showcase portrait artists, who Tsyglan says need all the recognition they deserve.
Tsyglan, who has painted the portraits of such Canadian notables as theatre and opera director Tom Diamond and ballerina Tatiana Stepanova, began the Portrait Society of Canada in 2001 with nine fellow artists.
Nine years on, the society now boasts 200 members staging yearly shows and events across the country.
Tsyglan’s inclusion in A Dialogue in Art is Mehmedovic’s portrait and one of Olympic triathlon champion Simon Whitfield.
She says she wanted to paint Mehmedovic after seeing him compete in Beijing.
“It was a guilty pleasure to be able to work with him,” says Tsyglan, who knew Mehmedovic’s father for years, but it wasn’t until she saw the now 25-year-old on TV that she realized he had taken his sport so seriously.
“I never thought he’d go so far,” Tsyglan says. “I was proud to see him on TV.”
And Mehmedovic is also proud of Tsyglan. “It’s not everyday someone paints a portrait of you.”
Like Tsyglan, the judo champion sees athletes and artists intertwined.
Both work hard for their goals, with some making it, while others do not, he says.
“It’s difficult to be an Olympic athlete. Judo isn’t as financially supported as swimming is,” he says.
“It’s tough but it helps when you have the support from your family.”
And the support of artists, no doubt.