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Stunning painting from the alleys—enjoy it while it lasts

July 14, 2017

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about any of the trashed original art that we binners find in the back alleys of Vancouver but I have to mention the stunner of a painting that a fellow binner and friend of mine found in a Kitsilano neighbourhood garbage today (July 14).

The painting, which is signed “DESIRE” on the front, was part of a group of seven-or-so, all by the same artist. I would like to have seen all of them but my friend only hung on to this one, because, he said, it was by far the best of the bunch.

Simply amazing, if you ask me

The full painting, maybe a metre square.

The painting is vibrant and compelling and even a bit jarring. It appears to be oil on fibre board and is rendered in a naive, simplistic style, using strong colours and thick brushstrokes.

It may well be the work of an amateur but I would hardly call the painting amateurish. The colours are rich and meltingly warm and the brushstrokes often seem deftly, if not, perfectly placed.

The result draws the eye in and invites scrutiny, which is rewarded by suggestions of emotional complexity lurking just below the painting’s bright surface.

Colourful but also a bit ominous

More to it than meets the eye.

The subject of the work is a blond-haired woman with pouting, red, bee-stung lips and more than a suggestion of anxiety in her midnight blue-lined eyes.

She looks straight at the viewer and sits primly on low steps. Her body language seems closed and defensive. Her arms are up, bent at the elbows and her hands are stretched out, as if to push something away.

Her immediate surroundings are dominated by tall flora—green and cerulean-stalked and crimson-blossomed—at first glance colourful but on second thought, perhaps ominous.

My friend pointed out the knife-wielding stranger that he saw in the form of the plant on stage right and now I cannot un-see it.

The writing on the back of the painting—presumably in the artist’s hand.

There is handwriting on the back of the painting, which, I’m assuming, provides the title, the full name of the artist and the date that the painting was completed:

Desire J Savigny

The painting is now “installed” in a bush somewhere in the Fairview neighbourhood.

I could suggest to my friend that the painting should be physically preserved in a safe place, so that it can be enjoyed well into the future; I could do this until I was cerulean blue in the face. My friend would just roll his eyes at me.

He doesn’t live any part of his life in the future, only in the day-to-day homeless present and what else would he do, after being homeless for at least 17 years now? From his point of view, why should the things that he finds (discards like himself) not share his uncertain and transitory existence?

If he’s happy to let me write about some of his finds, such as the above painting, it’s because he probably sees my blog as just another sort of bush.

I think that he thinks that the one thing that is every bit as ephemeral as life on the streets is life on the Internet.

He’s probably right. Click the images  to enlarge them.

  1. If your friend ‘desires’ to keep in this ‘bush’, at least it’s in the cloud. One man’s junk is one man’s treasure. I do see the shadow lurking behind with a knife. This could be an art but Oscar Wilde said Art is useless. I wonder what Oscar was thinking?


    • I wonder what Oscar thought he was doing. Perhaps he was referring to someone he know by the name of Art–he could be tricky that way.


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