Overview

Portrait artist Gordon Shadrach has had a lifelong fascination with the semiotics of clothing and its impact on culture. In particular, his interest lies in the intersection and codification of race and fashion. These codes impact the way we navigate through spaces and influence how people associate with one another. Shadrach’s portraits of Black men utilize fashion—contemporary or historical dress—in order to create narratives which pull viewers in to explore the biases embedded in North American culture. Shadrach’s paintings are often finished in found antique and vintage frames. The frames’ patina and wear lend historic weight and insert the portraits into a period when Black people were rarely depicted in Western portraiture. Shadrach seeks to disrupt the colonial constrictions of portraiture by inviting viewers to reflect upon the depiction of Black people in art and culture.

 

Born and raised in Brampton, Ontario, Gordon Shadrach has lived and worked in Toronto for over 25 years. The artist started painting in 2013 and paints in oil on wood or canvas and in 2020, he returned to his original field of study (textiles) by exhibiting textile-based installation pieces. Shadrach has exhibited in solo and group art shows in Canada and the United States, and his work was included in an exhibit developed by the Royal Ontario Museum titled, “Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art”, which was also presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

 

Gordon Shadrach has appeared as a panelist on the TVO’s the Agenda (Reinventing the Museum) and CBC Radio’s Metro Morning (Group of Seven Out, Under-represented Artists In at the AGO), and his community engagement includes working with Toronto’s Nia Centre for the Arts as a creative consultant, and as a a team member to develop and implement the Black Youth Design Initiative (BYDI) at OCAD.

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