Come experience Panagiotis Peter Sarganis' new exhibition inhale - exhale, on display at the SAMC Gallery inside TWU's Alloway Library, September 4 – October 10, 2021.
Words by Alysha Creighton, SAMC Sessional Assistant Professor of Art + Design
Photos by Janelle Ryan, Gallery Assistant
About the exhibit
In 2009, in the face of his father’s lung cancer diagnoses, Panagiotis Peter Sarganis took a series of photographs of his father as they conversed in his parents’ living room. The snapshots capture the range of emotions that passed over his father’s face over a period of 4 minutes and 57 seconds.
Over the ensuing years, as his father savoured his last days in his garden, breathed his final breath and as his family mourned his passing, Sarganis began to draw and eventually paint from these snapshots. The resulting work is a series of eighteen drawings and eighteen paintings of the artist’s father.
As a convert to Judiasm, the number eighteen holds particular significance for Sarganis. In the mystical tradition of Gematria the numerological value of the Hebrew letters that make up the word Chai (חי)—meaning life—add up to the number eighteen.
Through the meticulous work of painting these eighteen snapshots Sarganis stretches out those 4 minutes and 57 seconds over the course of the ten years he spent working on them. The work of painting becomes a gesture to slow down, to savour time.
"The images are displayed in the sequence that the photographs were taken. This reflects my increased awareness of the passage of time after my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, which is what led me to record these images in the first place. This series is about human emotion; it is about the passage of time; and above all else it is about appreciating the gift of life to its fullest... something my father did passionately the last two years of his life."
— Panagiotis Peter Sarganis
Artist statement by Panagiotis Peter Sarganis
On Wednesday, July 29th, 2009, sitting in my parents’ living room, my father, my mother, and I were sharing a conversation. I do not remember the topic of discussion that day. I do, however, remember taking a series of photographs. These images of my father document precisely 4 minutes and 57 seconds of our interaction. Despite the brief space of time in which they were taken these photographs captured a wide range of his characteristics and emotions. The first image portrays his discomfort with facing the camera and the last his pure joy as his grandchildren walked into the room. The images in between depict a variety of mannerisms familiar to those close to him.
I intentionally selected eighteen images in reference to Chai (חי), the Hebrew word meaning life. According to the mystical tradition known as Gematria, the numerological value of the Hebrew letters that make up the word Chai add up to the number eighteen; thus the eighteen images are in reference to life. The images are displayed in the sequence that the photographs were taken. This reflects my increased awareness of the passage of time after my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, which is what led me to record these images in the first place.
This series is about human emotion; it is about the passage of time; and above all else it is about appreciating the gift of life to its fullest...something my father did passionately the last two years of his life.
Panagiotis Peter Sarganis was born in Montreal in 1968. He can’t remember a time when he didn’t make stuff, and has been lucky to spend his days as an artist and art teacher. He graduated from Dawson College in 1988, and Concordia University in 1993, receiving Fine Arts degrees from both. Since 2000 he has focused on painting oil portraits. He has always been fascinated by people’s stories and sees his job as portrait artist to be like that of biographer. Through painting he strives to capture the physical likeness of the people he knows, as well as the essence of their character. In 2011, Peter received a special mention for his painting “Noah in the Kitchen” from the Kingston Prize (Canada’s portrait competition). The painting was part of a series from his solo exhibition titled “Dust and Breath”. His paintings are in private collections in Canada, the United States, and Israel. For Remembrance Day 2009, Sarganis and his students painted the portrait of each Canadian soldier killed that year in Afghanistan. The project received national attention, and the paintings are now part of the Canadian War Museum’s permanent collection. After taking a spoon carving course at Lee Valley Tools in November 2017, it has become his latest artistic passion. He has carved about 150 spoons in the first 18 months since taking the class, ranging in size from a few inches to about 8 feet long. He currently lives in Vancouver, where he continues to paint, carve, and teach visual art.
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About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.