An up-and-coming southwest artist is showcasing an exhibition of his work for the first time this spring at Shaunavon’s Grand Coteau Heritage and Cultural Centre.
Eastend's Andrew Robertson said he had never picked up a pencil (to draw, at least) until three years ago when working at a youth centre and navigating a heavy loss.
“I had saved up money to travel the world, and then COVID hit, and I couldn’t,” he said. “And my really close friend from growing up had passed away a month before as well. I was on a night shift, and I got this little piece of paper, like 2 inches by two inches, and I told myself: I'm going to sit down for eight hours and I'm going to just draw a little face on here and see what happens. And after the eight hours, the day shift worker came out and said, ‘Holy smokes, man—you can draw?’ And I said, ‘I guess so.’”
The art turned into a form of coping through a pandemic, uncertain future, and grief.
With his work at Rock Solid Refuge being part of that pivotal point, he drew inspiration from the relationships and stories he collected there.
“I saw a lot of ups and downs in these teenagers' lives; addictions to drugs, or anger issues, self-harm, or behavioural problems.” Robertson said. “It really made me want to express who people were and who I see them to be. That’s the basis of my drawings and paintings—sharing my view on why people are beautiful and valuable.”
The 25-year-old's debut exhibition, ‘In the Image,’ is a series of oil-painting portraits playing with shadows and textures that convey and evoke a range of emotions.
“I just want people to look in my paintings and see themselves, or also look beyond themselves and relate empathetically,” he said. "I believe people are created beautifully and wonderfully. I want people to understand that it doesn't matter who you are, you're valuable.”
Folks can view the exhibition at the Grand Coteau Heritage and Cultural Centre now through April 27, Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Robertson also has a website that features a range of art from paintings to photography, to videography.