Joan Sullivan
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Group exhibit at Bonnie Leyton Gallery follows the bouncing artists

Blind Contour Chair, by Jennifer Barrett. Submitted photo

One reason the group exhibitions at The Leyton Gallery are so entrancing and stimulating is that not only does this gallery lean towards representing interesting artists, it also has a knack for catching an interesting artist as they make slight or huge tack in their professional process and development. I, for one, am forever traipsing around the gallery, exclaiming, Why, thats from so-and-so! Ive never seen him or her do anything quite like that before.

Expansion encouraged

Blame, or credit, owner Bonnie Leyton, an established painter and sculptor herself who presumably knows when to push for and encourage an expansion in a portfolio. As well, Leytons own work has been taking a small, steady run of creative bounces. Either shes getting inspiration from the gallery artists, or vice versa, but it makes for a nicely synchronized burst of startling, striking inventiveness.

Michael Connelly has several absorbing pieces, including a fair-sized mixed media, with a lithograph of a bear skull and a hand print, and irregular, dripping, smeared areas of acrylic paint in red, brown, yellow and aqua.

Other mixed-media works include another rendition of a hand and a bear skull; a triptych of fluid lines and figurative forms done in very light browns and glowing vanillas; and yet another mixed media of blurry, streaming florals. In all of these, Connelly is playing with a juxtaposition of form and landscape, transposing shadows and outlines, and inserting, erasing and removing shapes and objects. He also has two very precise, delicate landscapes.

The ordinary, elevated

Michael Pittmans four small still lifes show layers of single, simple bold ruby and egg-yolk over black and white. They portray what seem to be ordinary objects, but seeing them placed within this framework has elevated them to a different, exotic form. They are oddly hard to recognize.

There is lots of gorgeous stuff from Elena Popova, a number of her superb, vivacious monotypes. One bubbly piece shows the neck of a stringed instrument, a guitar or violin, with its bridge, strings and tuning pegs. Popovas prints often jump and fizz with lilacs and tangerines; these are done in a darker palette of purple, crimson, grey and brown, with thick swishes of white detailing strokes.


Toby Rabinowitz, too, has made a kind of tonal shift. She has several works, including one drawing and one painting, done in really different spectrum from her usual gamut. The drawing is done in a very light graphite line instead of a heavy black ink.

The painting shows some elegant creams and greens and oranges, instead of the flowery rich pastels like indigos and peaches Rabinowitz often favours. Both show her singular and curious interlocking compositional chains of people and birds and butterflies, but they also have a restful spacing arranged as a pause, a beat in the visual tune.

Louise Sutton has some landscapes, very soft and meticulous, and some figure studies done, in contrast, in a kind of landscape technique. They are rendered in earthy tones of red, brown, black and white, and in something of a landscape brushstroke, with a rough vigour.

Rich glow

Margaret Ryall has two medium-sized works, the canvas divided into a flowering bulb on a slim panel of white, adjacent to an area of rock or grass. And there are three smaller pieces, aglow with her signature rich patina, pink and orange petals laid in photo transfer over a green worked background, polished and layered to an aquatic sheen.

Two artists have a series of portraits of women. Libby Moores are done with gorgeous breath and looseness, while Denis Chiassons paintings and drawings are blocked into a thoughtful, angular stylization.

The three pieces from Jennifer Barrett are wonderful. One is of two cartoon figures in an ocean scene, bold and simplified, one floating a word balloon with the sentence It sure is hot.

The colours are kept to blue, black, and white. The jump-out piece is a big painting, one of the biggest pieces in the show, which is composed of a gesture drawing of an armchair, a black outline contoured with Chiclet pinks, cherrys, chocolates and limes. This has an incredible balance of tone and spacing. It is pop art in terms of its genesis Barrett likes to delve into movies and comic strips and also because it just pops off the gallery wall.

This exhibition also has work from Anita Singh, Will Gill, Luben Boycov, Greg Bennett, Gordon Laurin, Taryn Sheppard, Carolyne Harrison and Leyton.

Out Of The Studio: An Exploration Of Art In Many Mediums, opens Saturday at The Leyton Gallery.

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