by Brenda Clews
In the back room of the Propeller Centre for Visual Arts, after the bright colours of Jane Murdoch Adams' Boat Series, her joyful abstract paintings, you are greeted with, surprisingly, unexpectedly, the massive universe. Its stars bear down on you.
I stood in awe, gazing. Then I decided to get a glass of shiraz and stay to gaze, to talk, to ruminate, to appreciate, to allow myself to be transformed in the myriad ways we are when we encounter art that speaks to us in the language of our dreams.
Do I mean soul touching? Yes.
'Spiral Galaxy M101 : Osaca House,' acrylic on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2012 by Pat Stanley
For what else is the magnificent universe of stars that we miraculously are alive in?
Pat Stanley's latest series of paintings, Convergence, are striking, ethereal, monumental in a deep philosophic way, mystical, Surreal, and yet they are also realist works.
She uses high resolution photographs from the Hubble Observatory as inspiration and guides for the imagery that she paints: galaxies, nebulas. She also has photographed the abandoned houses in whose skeletons she paints massive star bursts of light and energy, of mystical grace.
In this series of paintings, there are no people. In this series of paintings, our domiciles, our shells are abandoned, empty. Does she paint a post-apocalyptic world? I asked Pat this, and she said, "Perhaps..." But I could tell this was not her intent. She paints the dream of us in our emptiness in a universe bearing in on our memories.
When we are empty of the twitter of our lives, spiritual forces can sweep in with vision.
How can you speak in this room of silent ghostly houses and massive sweeping star systems? Gaze. Let the stars enter.
Her artist's statement:
CONVERGENCE is a meditation on space, time and memory. Hubble telescope images and abandoned structures are used as reference points to examine the tensions between phenomena in distant parts (and times) of the Universe to the remnants of our manufactured environment. Vivid renderings of galaxies and nebulae are interlaced with monochromatic images of deserted buildings and neglected spaces. The work is at once engaging and disturbing; immediate and evocative.
'Serenity Nebula : Osaca House,' acrylic on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2012 by Pat Stanley.
She described her process to me, and it is the opposite of what you would assume. She does not begin with a black background; rather, she starts by painting the galaxy or nebula on a white gessoed canvas. Then she adds the black background around it, the clusters and dots of stars. The whitened ghostly remnants of the houses and furniture are painted last. Yet the electricity and light and energy of the stars are what sweep out of the canvases at you standing before the edges of the starry night they portray.
'Universe in a Grain of Sand,' acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”, 2012 by Pat Stanley.
"The Universe in a Grain of Sand," which was meant to be in the Propeller show, has 'been awarded "Best Acrylic or Oil Painting" in the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington’s 32nd Annual Juried Art Show in Bowmanville, Ontario, where it remains on view' her website informs us.
Its title is a riff on a famous poem by the 18thc poet, William Blake, "Auguries of Innocence":
To see a world in a grain of sandWhich is a perfect poem for Pat Stanley's Convergence series.
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
Convergence series at her website; most of these paintings are on view at Propeller right now.
If you are in Toronto, or close enough, do make your way to the Propeller Centre for Visual Arts on Queen St W. to see this show before November 17th, when it closes. Between Jane Murdoch Adams' bright and beautiful paintings, and Pat Stanley's vision and realist talent, you will leave richer than when you arrived.