This week's Artwork Wednesday features Laurie Papou's She wished she had been named hope as a reminder, a part of the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection and currently on display in the Locate exhibition. This work is part of Papou’s Vanity Suite series made up of four life-size figure oil paintings which employ religious and art historical imagery of the Three Graces set amidst the ruins of a west-coast clear-cut.


In these works, Papou choses to the Graces defined through Christianity as, Faith, Hope and Charity. In contrast, according to Greek myth, the Three Graces are the three goddesses of joy, charm and beauty, theological virtues that are divine gifts from God. The graces were rarely treated as individuals, but always together as one entity believed to endow artists and poets with the ability to create beautiful works of art.

The three graces can be seen here (left, foreground) illustrated in Botecelli's "Primavera"

In Vanity Suite, the one male and three female figures are set amidst the ruins of a west-coast clear-cut. The setting they inhabit is one of torment and is meant to draw parallel the reality post fall reality of Eden. Papou creates a landscape of chaos, destruction and confusion while speaking to the persistence of human behaviors within the shifting nature of sexual roles in our society. Here, ‘Hope’ is no longer standing amongst the bounty of nature; rather, she is engaged in the drama of a strip tease. Through her defiant gaze and disrobed blouse, passive voyeurism is obscured and we are taken into her hostile environment. Papou's technique in utilizing the exposed grain within the female figure's flesh furthers the voice of the artist's statement. The juxtaposition between embracing the wood's natural beauty and depicting a decimated forest clearly mirrors the female figure revealing herself while engaging the viewer with a paralyzing gaze. The aggression of which is heightened through her blouse which, on first glance, seemingly takes the form of a rifle by her side.

Clockwise from left: He stood on a plateau and challenged us all, She wished she had been named hope as a reminder, Because faith was not lost in the chaos all around her, she was, and She saw her fallen clothes as a charity, a homage to the missing trees