Jay Senetchko is a storyteller. He is most easily defined as a painter, although he situates his practice in a broader material context and process, which includes digital media, performance and installations.

Like many of Senetchko’s pieces, The Course of a Distant Empire is a spectacle-based exhibition, consisting of five large-scale paintings influenced by the idea of eternal recurrence. This philosophy maintains that time, space and reality are part of a recurring cycle, rather than a linear series of events with an eschatological end.

Seasons and states of being act as pendulum swings, propelling eyes back and forth, over the polyptych spread. A classic Canadian landscape sets the stage for each piece and Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire, Jean Louis Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and medieval cycle paintings provide the framework. Images of mobility (physical and mechanical), creation and destruction, the salvaged and the discarded, reinforce the set of strange loops that pirouette across the series.

The Course of a Distant Empire visualizes the tension of our present historical situation by collapsing the past, present and future into single images, setting them in a cyclical format, and implying their repetition. Acts are made, others cancel them. The goals of one person impede those of another. Progress is made, but immediately encounters an obstacle or an equally regressive act. All tenses collide and mobility collapses into oscillation between decadence and destruction.