Showing posts with label art article. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art article. Show all posts

Friday, November 09, 2012

Pat Stanley: 'Convergence' at the Propeller Centre

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 sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
Which is a perfect poem for Pat Stanley's Convergence series.

Screen Capture of Pat Stanley's 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.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Jane Murdoch Adams: 'Life Boats' at the Propeller Centre

I went to see the Jane Murdoch Adams art show, 'Life Boats' at the Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts on Queen W. in Toronto tonight. It was a lovely show.

Here are two of her boat paintings.

'Life Boat, Toronto Harbour 2, MR Kane,' Jane Murdoch Adams, 2012

'1 Skyboat,' Jane Murdoch Adams, 2012

Jane Murdoch Adams is a woman who, "on the sea-crashing Malin Head, County Donegal, on the most northern tip of Ireland in 2001" discovered she had to paint, and has been painting ever since. Her work is vibrant and bright and bordering-on the almost-fully abstract. She works with pure colour, striking yet simple forms, and symbolic subject matter.

In Jane's paintings, the abstract qualities express the symbolic meanings of her work, in personal and universal ways, while also freeing themselves from these subjective associations to become Zen-like moments on the canvas. How she achieves this simultaneous 'personal'/'freed of the personal' expression is part of the magic of her art, what draws us to her vision.

Her work contains biographical-that-become-universal references while simultaneously expressing an art freed of these constraints, something that hits you straight on when you are standing before one of her canvases.

At the Propeller is a show of paintings of boats. On the wall is an old photograph of Jane's father standing in a canoe, a number of people around him, and on the wall we learn that his team represented Canada in the Commonwealth games in the 1920s, and you know that boating was very important to her family, and is full of rich memories for her. But she takes this part of her growing-up, of her memories of her father, of the paddle, of the slap and dip into the water (in the show you will find the real paddles her father used hanging on the wall), and expands her sense of 'boat' to hand-made small renditions of canoes in twigs and branches that line a wall, to abstract paintings of tug boats in the Toronto Harbour that are also a personal memento of her not-for-profit union work, and to all of Celtic Ireland. Her vision is intimate and expansive; in a word, breathtaking.

The show at Propeller is quite amazing, and well worth visiting if you are in Toronto. Listen to Jane speak in this short video of her boat series:

direct link: Jane Murdoch Adams Introduces Exhibition of LIFE BOATS Paintings, November 2012

One of the most memorable aspects of Jane's show was not just the use of colour, a palette of pale cream yellow, shiny golds, pure life-force reds, charcoal blacks and vivid greens that ran through most of the paintings and prints on the walls, unifying them as a cohesive series, but the boat imprinted in the Celtic series.

"The Broighter Gold or more correctly, the Broighter Hoard, is a hoard of gold artefacts from the Iron Age of the 1st century BC that were found in 1896 by Tom Nicholl on farmland near Limavady, Northern Ireland. The hoard includes a 7-inch-long (18 cm) gold boat..." This priceless gold boat became a talisman, a symbol imprinted in her Broighter Boats series.

This screen capture from the webpage on this series at Jane's website gives you an idea of what spans the walls at Propeller, and of that spectacular gold Iron Age boat which appears in each of the paintings of this series and which are all named after Irish women that she and her partner know in Ireland, as in the Celtic tradition of naming boats after women.

'Broighter Boats Series,' by Jane Murdoch Adams, a screen-capture of a webpage at her website - the paintings are 4' wide by 3' high.

That boat, abstracted, a symbol in paint, appears as a simple yet historical boat with oars, the eye of God as it is imaged in Medieval texts, and a fish with long gills in the ocean. When you learn that it is a representation of the exquisite Broighter Boat, which echoes and connects in deep personal ways to Jane's Irish heritage, the layering of the personal and universal, of the explicit and the abstract, that she does so adeptly in her work comes flooding in.

'The Broighter Boat: Finnoula,' acrylic/mixed media on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2012. Jane Murdoch Adams.

The charcoal blacks are rich and tactile, formed as they are (in this particular piece) from manoeuvred washes of acrylic paints on the canvas lying on the floor. We see the Broighter Boat like a divine gold stamp in the middle of what is an abstract boat in charcoal blacks and vivid pinks. The sun is drawn as a child would draw it. Such is the child-like simplicity and sophistication of Jane's work. Not just in this work, but everywhere you see confidence, a mastery of line, of shape and colour. There is no hesitancy, or nervous re-working; rather, bold, bright, confident, warm, joyful and enlightened. Her paintings are as delightful and warm as Jane herself is in person.