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Abstract portraits from Vancouver painter début in Port Moody

The results of Jason Young’s pandemic portrait sessions are now being shown at PoMoArts in Port Moody as part of a collection called "Relational / Reflexive."

Jason Young officially started his artistic practice just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

A few months prior, the Vancouver resident had toured museums and galleries around Europe to study the masterpieces in person and gain inspiration.

A graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Young was also coming to terms with some fresh starts in his own life: the departure from his employment as a graphic artist, the beginning of working in an art supply store and the end of a relationship, as well as a new home in Yaletown.

The month before the lockdowns in 2020, he also began to pursue the genre of life drawing — or nudes — and setting parameters to manage his craft mindfully.

Diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Young discovered that he worked best quickly to keep his mind and hands busy. For example, he sketched out his ink portraits in under five minutes before he moved onto another pose with his model.

So, when the world shut down and Young became isolated, he had dozens of sketches waiting to be finished with paints and mixed media.

“I was alone and had a household of art supplies from the store,” Young remembered. “I had found my thing.”

The results of Young’s pandemic portrait sessions are now being shown at PoMoArts in Port Moody as part of a collection called Relational / Reflexive.

The exhibit is Young’s début as a solo artist, and it’s a series he hopes to tour to pay tribute to the queer community in Vancouver.

For his current life drawing process, Young said, he creates about 20 drawings per hour on average — rarely looking at his paper canvas — before edits and settles on one to refine at a later date.

Still, his intensely coloured life drawings, which show no brush strokes, are not realistic on purpose.

“The picture comes out of the space they’re holding,” he told the Tri-City News.

“It’s about responding to the immediacy of the moment. I produce one after another and the energy fills me and my subject.”

But he doesn’t just have models: Young also has self-portraits in his collection, as well as self-partner concepts that can sometimes play out a challenge.

For the PoMoArts display, Young is exhibiting 30 pieces in the Beedie Living Gallery until May 6. In the past four years, he has sold more than 50 portraits to collectors across North America via his Instagram page.

As for his next move, Young said he plans broaden his audience by heading into Vancouver’s Stanley Park to try his hand at abstract landscape painting, capturing nature and spirituality.

On Thursday, April 11, at 7 p.m., Jason Young will be at PoMoArts (2425 St. Johns St.) to talk about Relational / Reflexive. Admission is free.