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Blog posts tagged in Show Review

What Does the Artist See?

Contributed by AGB member/volunteer Dorothy Parshall

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At first glance, Mary McLoughlin’s supersize flowers at the Art Gallery of Bancroft bring to mind the work of American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe who painted flowers throughout her long career as an artist beginning in the 1920s employing a style that magnified and abstracted them. Hers were not the botanical prints or delicate watercolours meant to capture living structures for academic interest in the previous century. Like all her work, O’Keeffe’s flowers were strong, modern images bursting with life and energy.

 In her multi-year exploration as a painter of portraits of flowers in oil on canvas, McLoughlin does not linger on the lushness and sensuality of the physical structure of her models beyond what is needed to demonstrate her mastery of drawing and line and composition. With laser-like precision, she gets it right and leaves it at that. Like Mary Pratt’s luscious “Red Current Jelly (1972)” currently at the National Gallery of Canada, Mary McLoughlin’s “White Peony (2015)” sings the song of whiteness as if it could not have been anything but white. Nor does she oversell her knowledge and experience as a colourist given free-rein with all the hues and tints in the colour wheel. The four 2012 pieces, previously exhibited at her solo show at the Art Gallery of Peterborough are a riot of the orange and pink and fuscia that made us love JEH MacDonald’s “The Tangled Garden”(1916).

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There is a dignified silence at 10 Flint Avenue this month of June. It is a pleasure to see how well our modest little gallery serves the creatures on display.

The arrangement is a piece of art in itself and every carefully executed detail of the ‘wild’ on display exposes a dedicated craftsmanship seldom exhibited anywhere.

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Our annual juried show is more true to the calendar than the season. What it does have in common is its unpredictability. The acceptance of many, seemingly all, of the entries takes some of the edge off the event.

To yours truly, it is not just the thrill of being thus honored, and more often than not with an award, it is as well when a piece is rejected. The curious “Why?” that adds to what this event is much about.

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My first impression was “WOW!” This is California; Mozart taking Pollock for a ride to sunny Disneyland. A tsunami of colour smartly framed in simple black. But it’s curious how music as diverse as Mozart and Holst can evoke a disturbing sameness as presented here. The common denominator music is downgraded to an M word. Such commonality should not interfere with the enjoyment of the expertly flowing pigment, which it happily does not.

On Holst’s “Jupiter” what else but his godly forefinger points at fingerpainting. Gustav Holst’s frigid immensity of space, the big bang and such, escapes this viewer. I’m not unsympathetic to abstract ideas, it’s the trite arguments they nourish which unfortunately their practitioners don’t let go. Myself included. So let Jupiter’s finger point to the harmony of all great music.

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At this year's "Michal Manson Memorial Student Show", we are confronted with some welcome focus on First Nation's imagery. Here and there a flattering nod to the great Norval Morriseau. Many pieces show good technical proficiency, such as the two by Shannon Reid, both titled "Untitled"and one of the two honoured with "Best Painting".

Myself, I was much more impressed by the unhonoured "Untitled" Reid.  The fiery orange to red splash in the beastly jaw then drawn to the half-hidden eyes in the chiseled features, so common on today's supermodels. Great. Disney-friendly happy comic ideas appear to have left the planet, and so hints of cosmic ventures which seemed to fascinate young, budding artists, as I recall, years ago.

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Contact Details

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

Phone: (613) 332-1542
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