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Michael Doward: The Visitor

Atelier Gallery, Vancouver BC – Apr 1-19

Michael Dowad - Skooter Boy
Michael Dowad, Skooter Boy (2006), oil on canvas [Atelier Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 1-19]

With a background in math, science and computing, Vancouver artist Michael Dowad brings an unusual sensibility to his art. His studies in Buddhism and artificial intelligence, as well as an interest in pictures of the afterlife and spiritual beings, inform his quirky artwork with a quiet sophistication.

Dowad paints small images of stuffed animals and toys who, by turn, look surprised, inquisitive, mischievous and doubtful, but always endearing. They pack the punch of anime, a Japanese cartoon style. They have the bright off-key colours of moulded plastic toys and stuffed animals from Asia.

Michael Dowad - Golden Boy
Michael Dowad, Golden Boy (2006), oil on canvas [Atelier Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 1-19]

For some viewers, Dowad’s creatures evoke feelings of nurture and protection, like Pokemon or My Little Kitty. Some reviewers have found the images to be “ominous,” “menacing” or “just plain weird.” They have been described as “a bit off, usually pathetic but still humourous, which gives the sense that they are coming from, in, or heading towards trouble.” Unquestionably, it is difficult not to ascribe human qualities to them and the images do invite narrative. The way they are hung on the gallery walls – widely-spaced and at various heights – heightens their whimsical appeal.

Michael Dowad graduated from the Emily Carr College of Art in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Art. He has studied painting in London and Cardiff, and did graduate studies in mathematical and philosophical logic and their applications to artificial intelligence at Simon Fraser University.


Mia Johnson

 Tue, Apr 4, 2006