Vija Doks

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Artist Statement


My father worked in a paper mill and he would bring home the mill’s seconds. We always had paper – a pile three-feet high that we kept in the attic- and I could draw to my heart’s content. My cousins came over to our house for drawing contests. When I was splitting up with my artist boyfriend in 1989, I realized that I would not miss him as much as I would miss the art. It was then that I decided to become an artist.

I feel I’m a post-modern artist since I’m torn between styles. I want to follow in the footsteps of Durer, Velázquez and Vermeer and yet am mysteriously drawn to Donald Duck.

My love affair is with oil, but I have been known to cheat. Under the Vermeer umbrella I paint family members and work with historical images. Things are left unsaid and undone. The other style I work in is cartoon-like. My affinity is with teenage boys. The first painting that I ever sold was of cockroaches bought by a young man. I work with words and cartoon characters. I take a truism or a platitude and apply it to the present. Is it still valid?

Works include a diptych that is about the lessons learned or not learned from the Three Little Pigs. It’s a two-- possibly three-- canvas work that compares our modern day society with pre-industrial society. It compares pre-industrial straw huts to modern glass skyscrapers.

A recent project is painting the portraits of 100 famous women. These are redacted portraits aiming at painting the essence of the individual without the interference of background, clothing and other accoutrements,

I work methodically or not. On large canvases I lay out a grid and then sketch in my images. Next I apply a light wash of underpainting and then I build up my image. The canvas becomes a palimpsest with underpainting and drawn lines peeking through the paint. For small canvases, underpainting becomes background as I work spontaneously from sketches. I often apply the paint with my hands and make blunt details with my fingers.


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