Summer Fare

Joan Sullivan
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The Leyton Gallery presents a showcase of collected works

The invitation to The Leyton Gallerys Summer Show features Hummingbirds, an oil on canvas painting from Greg Bennett. Two small birds are suspended, mid-flight, their wingspan articulated in a soft flare of crimson and cream lines; to each side is an emblematic, stylized flower. The background is a motley of blues, navy and indigo, with the paint marks often left as drippings or scratches. The image encapsulates much of the work in the show, which often spins off a tension between the natural and artificial, and the mirroring or twinning of the representational and the bizarre.

For example, John Haneys three black-and-white photographs posit earth and air, light and fog as airbrushed studies in shades of grey. Spumes of mist piggyback arcs of ocean or coastline, while irregular, physical highlights of sun pour through. Rhonda Pelley has some black-and-white photographic compositions, collage of body, text and found sites, while Louise Suttons paintings fuse windswept landscapes with found interior rhythms and beats. Theres a lovely, poised trio of white irises from Michele Stamp, and a clutch of paintings from Denis Chiasson in his signature, angular style. Toby Rabinowitz has some of her gorgeous, zingy pieces, and Anita Singh a few of her composed and colourful works.

Looking at Elayne Greeleys three engaging paintings, one question that arises is where the work, both the painting itself and the subject included, starts? It seems organic to the media and the process. One is almost psychedelic, a dreamy play of negative space, swirling colours and dissolving forms. Yet it is also crisp and full of volume. A second combines figure and landscape with a wash of paints and the grain of the background, while a third shows a heron in trembling, feathery olive, lilac and vanilla lines, with a composition of backdrop in pools of blue and white, and bands of crimson and grey. It is as if Greeley simply pierces a hole in a canvas and the piece pools through.

Jennifer Barretts funky painting happily plays with spare, mechanical outlines and crayon hues, setting a gesture drawing of a forklift against blocked areas in shades of blue, the black lines incomplete and animated, and the colours from a neon, nail-polish palette.

Someone new here is Kent Jones, and, as usual with a Leyton Gallery artist, he is really interesting. He has four pieces, three paintings and a print, and they are all quite straightforward and yet quite surreal. They have a muted, Asian sensibility in terms of line, arrangement and tone, and yet are really odd assemblages of subject.

One shows two plough horses, strong, set with tackle and harness, the first in blue and white, the second brown and white. Their carefully fluent outlines are inclusive, but not all of their bodies are tinted. The blues and browns are incomplete, like an imperfect transfer of foil onto a flat surface. The geometric setting includes a green circle and a horizontal slant between offsetting planes.

A second painting includes a wooden chair, a partially rendered female form that is old-fashioned (Victorian or Edwardian) in hair and dress, and a stand of foliage. A delicate calligraphic line runs partway across the top, and it looks like, but is not, writing. This work is meticulous, yet impossible, everyday forms taken completely out of context, and even out of any normal scale.

The third piece is very, very pale, with one light, nominally female figure, her hand outstretched as if she were throwing something away, and a second similar figure, her hands to her head, behind. Theres a striped area, suggestive of wallpaper, a flung white spiral, and a bottom strip of intervallic angles. It is both flat and as three-dimensional as a diorama, containing an action of mystery.

The last piece is in black and white, with another old-fashioned female figure (like from a classic fairy tale) posed against a plane of light, shining through a panel she has just opened, and a black-speckled cat walking a thin line separating areas composed of thin lines, or scribbles the whole surface is a Mobius strip of design and facet, both prosaic and otherworldly.

The Summer Show opens at The Leyton Gallery of Fine Art Saturday and continues until Sept. 1.

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