Over the past two years Hamilton has found a new spark of life in the downtown core’s growing arts scene. James St. North in particular has bloomed into a lively area buzzing with new stores that range from small boutique shops to organic bakeries to, of course, the communal gathering each month for Art Crawl. Hamilton’s interests have changed from industry to culture and a new breed of artists has emerged. Gord Bond, a McMaster Alumni, is one of these new artists and is making a name for himself with his unique approach to the human face.

Bond‘s interest in painting began like most artists’ probably do: he drew and painted cartoon superheroes as a kid and later attempted to recreate landscapes, which in his case was his family’s Georgian Bay cottage. “I have been painting from a very young age although I didn’t start painting consistently until I entered my undergrad in fine art at McMaster,” said Bond. Upon entering the fine arts program, he eagerly began a series of paintings that focus on manipulating one’s perception of the human face.

Bond encompasses the French term “jamais vu” in his work, which translates into “never seen.” This term describes the phenomenon of something familiar becoming instantly unfamiliar, all at the same time. It is this contrast between the familiar and unfamiliar that leads Bond to fracture and disorder the faces of his friends and family on canvas. “[It] is interesting to consider how their face can be such a reassuring image. It is the result of the intimate knowledge you have of them and the fond experiences you’ve shared. On the other hand, there is a side to them that you don’t know and is unknowable. There are thoughts that they will never share, no matter how close your relationship is, and secrets that they will keep to themselves,” said Bond of the experience. “I felt that if I could maintain the character of the face but reorganize it in a way that is uncomfortable I could project this experience of jamais vu.”

Aside from the concepts of jamais vu, Bond’s goals at McMaster were to improve his painting abilities to “catch up to [his] imagination,” and in his final year he produced 60 paintings. Now a York student, he looks to start fresh and break new ground with his work. “York [is] a new setting and a blank canvas unbiased to anything I have done in the past,” said Bond. He is approaching the human figure with a more “playful and childlike” theme, allowing his work to speak to a wider range of ideas that he finds important.

Bond is also the drummer in local band New Hands; one of his goals is to paint the faces of bands he plays with such as Young Rival, the Rest and Arkells. If he could pick any musician, however, Tom Waits is his number one choice.

Gord Bond’s art is currently on display weekly in the Casbah Lounge at the corner of King and Queen in downtown Hamilton.

By: Kyle Fisher

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