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Oil on panel
45 x 45 x 2 inches
Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., New York City
I began thinking about painting an aquanaut, or deep-sea diver, when we were in Florida and some friends suggested we meet at Tarpon Springs, an old Greek settlement known for its sponge industry. On a boat tour I became fixated on an antique diving suit donned for a demonstration of how they collected sponges. I was drawn to the brass surface texture of the helmet, which was even more interesting with the emergence from water. Once home, I did further research on lighting, wet rubberized fabric and brass. I had my dad take photos of me, first in my studio and later emerging from Lake Ontario wearing a round brass planter on my head! The choice of using a circular panel was intentional. In viewing a rectangular piece, there is a left-to-right beginning-to-end, whereas a circle is cornerless, resulting in a type of timelessness and unity. This set the stage for a painting that would come to carry peculiar metaphysical weight. Over the years I have been intrigued by Ephesians 5:14, which states “Awake, O Sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (ESV). When reading it, I would always have a strange picture in my mind of a diver rising upon a seaweed shore with a bird flying above. Suddenly, this verse in Ephesians and the visual idea for this painting converged. As I conceptually developed this piece, I began to see the metamorphosis of the aquanaut emerging from the depths of the ocean into an unknown light, with an illuminated Common House Martin ascending into the sky. By excluding the face and skin colour, the figure becomes a metaphoric archetype for spiritual transformation, arising from deadness of soul into new life in Christ, which is available to everyone.
Born in 1995 in Moscow, Russia, Josh Tiessen is an international award-winning artist based near Toronto, Canada. Tiessen is best known for his hyper-surreal shaped oil paintings, which take up to 1700 hours to complete, and reflect the interaction between the natural world and human-made structures, drawing upon his studies in philosophy and theology.
As a young artist Tiessen was designated one of the world's top ten prodigy artists by Huffington Post, and the only known male art prodigy in North America by Dr. J. Ruthsatz, global prodigy expert. As a teenager he was juried in as the youngest member of International Guild of Realism among foremost realist artists from around the world, Artists for Conservation and Society of Animal Artists, elite groups of the top nature and wildlife artists worldwide. Art Renewal Center designated him Associate Living Master, and New York based gallery Jonathan LeVine Projects awarded him First Place from 2000 artists in their international competition Search for the Next Great Artist. LeVine presented the emerging artist’s debut international solo exhibition “Streams in the Wasteland” in May of 2019.
Mentored by masters like acclaimed Canadian artist Robert Bateman, Tiessen has exhibited his work since 2006 in over 100 exhibitions including the National Gallery of Canada and prominent galleries in the United States. He has sold over 150 original works and hundreds of limited edition giclée prints to private and corporate Canadian and international collectors.
Featured over 200 times in the press & media (Forbes, American Art Collector, International Artist), speaking and teaching at 60 venues, and making 90 invited art donations to charitable organizations, Tiessen established the Arts for a Change Foundation. This prolific artist has garnered over 60 awards and honours including International Guild of Realism Creative Achievement, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and Canada's Top 20 Under 20, for his artistic accomplishment and philanthropic work.