Oil on Panel, 2018
Dimensions: 108 inches x 90 inches
This painting took approximately 1400 hours of
studio time spread out over 2 years. It depicts
Charles, the iconic silverback gorilla from the
Toronto Zoo, surrounded by over 70 different
ape-related toys from various generations of
pop culture. The pattern is primarily influenced
by Gothic stained glass windows.
As a child, I spent a great deal of time at the
Toronto Zoo where my aunt used to work as a
zookeeper. I would draw Charles constantly.
I've always wanted to make a large-scale painting
of Charles, but I didn't want it to be a menacing
or intimidating depiction. I wanted to present a
Because of my desire for that pose, capturing an
ideal reference photo was very difficult.
I ended up taking multiple reference photos to
create a composite sketch. This was the most
challenging painting I have ever made.