Parker's painters centre stage Plus sculpture, photography in new exhibits

Joan Sullivan
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Nothing beats the crisp opulence of really good painting. Seventeen visual artists are included in the Christina Parker Gallery group exhibit, "From The Studio," and all but two of them (sculptor Peter Drysdale, photographer Ned Pratt) are partly or exclusively painters.

Tara Bryan, for example, is known for her multimedia landscapes, here set off with low mauve hills, incandescent seas and the sweet heft of an iceberg. Carol Bajen-Gahm's series "Quaternity #1-#4" (multimedia, including oil, pigment stick and Nepalese oil paper on panel) is a balance of abstracted planes and nature-culled relief, while Grant Boland's four pieces are inspired by film noir, with "Grifter," "Busy Signal," "She Married A Dead Man" and "Man With A Briefcase (Prague)" all infused with the chiaroscuro of black and white movies distilled into underlit and overlit pools of colour.

Laurie Leehane ("Factory," oil on panel, 24" x 36", 2007) is one of the participants in "From The Studio," on now at the Christina Parker Gallery. Submitted photo

Nothing beats the crisp opulence of really good painting. Seventeen visual artists are included in the Christina Parker Gallery group exhibit, "From The Studio," and all but two of them (sculptor Peter Drysdale, photographer Ned Pratt) are partly or exclusively painters.

Tara Bryan, for example, is known for her multimedia landscapes, here set off with low mauve hills, incandescent seas and the sweet heft of an iceberg. Carol Bajen-Gahm's series "Quaternity #1-#4" (multimedia, including oil, pigment stick and Nepalese oil paper on panel) is a balance of abstracted planes and nature-culled relief, while Grant Boland's four pieces are inspired by film noir, with "Grifter," "Busy Signal," "She Married A Dead Man" and "Man With A Briefcase (Prague)" all infused with the chiaroscuro of black and white movies distilled into underlit and overlit pools of colour.

Other artists focus deeply on the human figure. Brad Reid has two small portraits (oil on canvas), and Dan Hughes another pair, including "Michael," which carries a wallop of real presence. Brian Burke's compelling paintings (oil on canvas), like "Arrangement" or "The Golden Age of Burlesque," play with form and space, emotions and behaviour in a manner that is off kilter, filmic and expressionist in their duns and silvers and olives.

Will Gill's "Birds and Planes 1 and 2," "Little Angel" and "Greg" are packed with explosive kinetics caught in a muted, dazzling cream-to-gray palette with rushes of crimson and flutters of black, in nifty contrast to Scott Goudie's elemental triptych, Ron Bolt's holographic pointillism and Bill Rose's bright encoded florals.

Laurie Leehane - who I officially predict is on the cusp of bouncing to a new level of status and popularity - has a batch of downtown St. John's views that focus variously on a street side facade, a bow window or the dawn-lit cacophony of flat black roofs stepping downwards towards the harbour. Her architectural detail and urban choreography are pierced and illuminated with a robust, slanting magic-hour light.

Tom Hammick's pieces, which include "Ferryman," "Motorhome" and "Shack," are composed of etching and hand colouring. These small, bright, rough works have an immediacy and crayon friskiness both intentionally naÏve and aptly complex.

Helen Gregory's "Desiccated 111" (acrylic on canvas) is a big painting, gorgeous and tactile for all that its subject is the still husks of a bird and a rose. Gregory's touch is so delicate, and she conveys an intent of preservation and memento mori, combining a fundamental message with an eye for colour and a damask background to die for.

Also in the exhibition are Drysdale's three-dimensional works, Pratt's photography, Boyd Chubbs' ornate line drawings and Cliff George's sunny, appealing paintings. And Gary Michael Dault has five works from a cereal box series (acrylic on boxboard; he creates them in 60 seconds), landscapes where the commercial imagery and branding are sometimes left to breath through the layers, shaping moons and hills and water. The deep rich tones are applied with quick sure strokes and a darting energy.

Dabinett's swirls

Also showing is Diana Dabinett's "Ethereal." The paintings range from small (7"x5") to mid-sized (24"x48"), all done in egg tempera. This very old, classic and adaptable technique, manipulated with a little brush, results in a particular bold matte hue. Dabinett has used a lot of blue and gold, dappled with an apricot- or purple-velvet light, filled with motifs of curlicues, spirals, flares and bubbles. The representation shifts from recognizable shores to deep galaxies. Dabinett has worked in silkscreen and other textiles and all kinds of painting, on everything from puffins and codfish to her own cancer diagnosis; it seems no topic is beyond her and she just gets more and more interesting.

"From The Studio" continues until Dec. 15, and "Ethereal" continues until Dec. 21 at the Christina Parker Gallery.

Organizations: Golden Age

Geographic location: Prague, St. John's

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