It might be a primal human reaction — to leave a mark.
Some tourists will write “I was here” in graffiti, while others will take selfies with the Eiffel Tower or Westminster Abbey.
Red Deer artist Paul Boultbee, who doesn’t much care for either of the above options, started recording his presence in various locations by taking photographs that included his shadow.
“They contain a record of my presence, although my identity still remains a mystery,” he writes in the artist statement for his exhibit Shadow Man.
It’s on to Feb. 17 at the Kiwanis Gallery, operated by the Red Deer Arts Council, downstairs at the downtown public library.
Boultbee’s series of mixed-media works are inspired by these photos, combining memory and experience.
“Like much of my work, several of the pieces are structural and architectural in form,” he says.
But they are also autobiographical, in a sense, relying on symbols and materials to convey meaning.
Some of the canvases give hints of locations, such as the little square of blue water represented in Shadow Man (Bahamas).
There’s police tape and the hint of a dagger apparent in the abstract Above the Law, while a shadow converges into others, suggesting different light sources, in Two from One.
Boultbee hopes his “haunting images” will encourage viewers to reflect on their own place in the world, “however fleeting it may be…
“We may not all leave a concrete legacy… it is often our shadow lives that remain,” he added.
Boultbee is an Ontario native who has lived in Red Deer since 1982. The former librarian graduated from the visual arts program at Red Deer College in 2003 and is completing his bachelor of fine arts degree through Thompson Rivers University.
He’s had solo exhibits and group exhibits across North America.