Community Watch: Blog Series: Wilf Perrault

Wilf Perrault, Guiding Light, 2002, acrylic on canvas. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery. Photo: Don Hall. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, purchased with funds donated by the Barootes family in honour of Betty Barootes.

Wilf Perrault, Guiding Light, 2002, acrylic on canvas. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery. Photo: Don Hall. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, purchased with funds donated by the Barootes family in honour of Betty Barootes.

07 July 2021

Wilf Perrault is a Regina painter with a well-established reputation in western Canada for his urban landscapes. Perreault received his BA of Fine Arts from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon (1970), where he studied with Otto Rogers. Perreault has had numerous exhibitions in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, including solo shows at the MacKenzie Art Gallery and the Dunlop Art Gallery. Wilf Perreault emerged at a time when the influence of California-based artists was at its height in Saskatchewan. However, rather than respond to California funk ceramics, Perreault found inspiration in the work of realist painter Joseph Raffael. But, as was the case for fellow ceramic artists Joe Fafard and Vic Cicansky, outside impetus led to a new concentration on local subject matter—the back alleys and gardens of Regina. 

Seclusion (1990) and Guiding Light (2002) are excellent examples of Perreault’s technique, which is a blend of photo-realism and impressionism. The subtle colour washes and rich tonalities of this mature work show the evolution of Perreault’s work from earlier watercolours. Seclusion (1990), which is based on a Vancouver back alley, is representative of Perreault’s interest in subjects outside his hometown of Regina. This ambitious triptych forms an excellent complement to Guiding Light (2002), a large-scale canvas depicting a Regina back alley. 

The inclusion of Perreault’s two works in Community Watch introduces a different perspective to the common perception of “community” in popular public consciousness. In Perreault’s alleys, community appears not through gathering of people, but through places of these gatherings, of garage sales, of children playing, of garden bushes that provide shady respites on a hot summer day, and of ominous, poorly lit driveways. The embodiment of both good and eerie feelings in Perreault’s alleys adds to a more comprehensive representation of communities in this exhibition. 

Wilf Perreault, Seclusion, 1990, acrylic on canvas.