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Blog posts tagged in Sheila Davis

Sheila Davis: Riding the Elephant: a catchy title conjuring up images of mass and risk-taking and something outside our normal experience. And that is what Sheila Davis has provided. We can see that she began with landscape both through "Local Colour", the most strikingly representational  example included in the show, the piece she described as "unlike the others and most recognizable as landscape", and through maps locating the photographs that guided her exploration of this particular road in central Ontario. Her photographs and maps reveal what she was working from; somber colours, crowded vertical growth, a  gray and muddy palette. Why she would use these as inspiration is a mystery. Would it not be better to photograph sundappled leaves, sparkling water and clear blue skies? Apparently not? Sheila Davis chose to do the opposite. She used her photographs from nature as a springboard to create amazingly beautiful expressionistic paintings that have little reference back to her original source of inspiration. They are light and airy, robust and strong. When she delivered them to the gallery, it was clear the paintings were energizing their creator as much as she had energized the canvases. Exuberance is a word that captures the feeling of the rest of the show. Less controlled landscape, more painterly passionate infusion of short strokes, vibrant colour and lots of breathing room as if, indeed, she is riding above the mundane and bleak, the cold and wet, the muddy and murky. She is like a breath of fresh air introducing the colours of silk saris along the  Elephant Road. A good name for the show.

It took Davis many years of painting to find the confidence, and the artistry to know when to stop working on a piece, to let it breath and grow on its own. And, that is what this particular body of work has, a life of its own. Not a calmness or stillness or sense of arrival. It is more like a
beautiful curtain, that when pulled back will reveal where she plans to go next and the road she might take to get there. That road no doubt lies in a more expressionistic and more abstracted direction.

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Art Gallery of Bancroft
10 Flint Avenue
P.O. Box 398
Bancroft, Ontario
K0L 1C0

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