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“Toronto artist Shirley Wiitasalo didn’t choose painting; it chose her.”

In the years since, she has responded to the medium with rigor, commitment and intuitiveness, creating an impressive body of work that has earned acclaim at home and abroad.

Undaunted by painting's rich history, Wiitasalo creates works that are unpredictable, challenging, and new. Her process is one of discovery and she searches through the paint for an image. Figures emerge then disappear. Light flips across luminous colour, surface and texture. Simple and forceful, her canvases offer an ambiguity that invites the viewer to simply be in a moment with the painting.

Nomination statement by Ian Carr-Harris, visual artist

Journey into painting and back to the surface

Shirley discusses the medium of painting and the challenges it poses to artists.

Searching through the paint for the image

Shirley speaks about her creative process.