A study in static time

Viewers don’t have to be experienced art viewers to appreciate this collection

Masters of Time allows viewers to experience the elasticity of time.
Masters of Time allows viewers to experience the elasticity of time.
Masters of Time allows viewers to experience the elasticity of time.
Masters of Time allows viewers to experience the elasticity of time.

There aren’t many people who would be interested in an art exhibit that demands knowing every nuance of the art world.

Masters of Time: European Paintings from the Permanent Collection, an exhibit at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (AEAC), is not one of those exhibits.

The collection attempts to explore the elasticity of time and transports viewers back in years.

Masters of Time is one that can be appreciated by a wider audience because it contains paintings that play with time. Time affects and limits us all, so can it captivate us.

The exhibit features an oil on panel painting by Isaac de Jouderville, Bust of a Young Man in a Beret and Silk Scarf, completed around 1630.

From 1929 to 1931, Jouderville studied under Rembrandt in Leiden and the influence of the master can be seen in the work of the apprentice. In a brief introduction, the AEAC writes: “The painting’s strong light contrast, bold twisting contour lines, loose brush strokes and fabric effects relate it closely to Rembrandt’s Head of an Old Man in a Cap.”

The young man depicted wears an elegant silk scarf and a generous beret, but the real attraction lies in his brash pose and expression.

Subtle yet distinctive, with his right shoulder leaned forward and head held slightly tilted up and to the right, the man’s eyes fall on something in front and a touch lower than him. The lips, with a Cupid’s bow beneath the sparse moustache, are pursed in an indiscernible expression.

There’s speculation of it being a self-portrait of the artist as a young man.

Rembrandt’s Head of an Old Man in a Cap is displayed next to Jouderville’s piece, their muted palettes and their contrast “[emphasizing] the message of the passing of human life.” The paintings work to present time captured in a single static image.

When one usually understands time as constantly moving, these pieces defy that. To accomplish this, the artist used the concept of synecdoche or “the part standing in for the whole.” Simply put, Jouderville captured a single moment in order to evoke a whole story.

They are also examples of vanitas imagery, which is meant as a reminder of the fleetingness of human life.

By capturing an abstract, ever-moving concept such as time in a static image, viewers are able to experience the elasticity of it, all within the safety of four solid walls of the AEAC.

Masters of Time will be on display at the AEAC until Nov. 24.

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