Works & in wax stone

Joan Sullivan
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Angela Antle's lovely encaustics shown with Reed Weir's elfin sculptures

Encaustic painting is a very old art process, but like egg tempera, it is not widely practised. The technique, which involves heating wax and embedding the media with coloured pigments, is something of a specialty.

Blazing her own creative trail, visual artist Angela Antle (also known as the host of CBC Radio's "Weekend AM" arts magazine) has elected to focus on encaustic, with four of her latest pieces showing in tandem with Reed Weir's "Of Sow's Ears and Silk Purses" (this exhibit itself an appetizer for "The Flood at Furnace Cove," a duet between the two artists running at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery until Sept. 28.)

Angela Antle, "The Bird's Take Back Their Language (Atwood)," encaustic on canvas. Works by Weir and Antle are on show at the Christina Parker Gallery until Aug. 2.- Photo courtesy of the Christina Parker Gallery

Encaustic painting is a very old art process, but like egg tempera, it is not widely practised. The technique, which involves heating wax and embedding the media with coloured pigments, is something of a specialty.

Blazing her own creative trail, visual artist Angela Antle (also known as the host of CBC Radio's "Weekend AM" arts magazine) has elected to focus on encaustic, with four of her latest pieces showing in tandem with Reed Weir's "Of Sow's Ears and Silk Purses" (this exhibit itself an appetizer for "The Flood at Furnace Cove," a duet between the two artists running at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery until Sept. 28.)

I am not sure what draws Antle to encaustic, but it is obvious what she distills from it: luscious colours, elegant and organic patterns, and dynamic surfaces. The works here are composed with a careful eye to format, with two diptychs, one triptych, and one ovoid. Each is titled by a quote, attributed to an author (for example, "Come Back in Ten Thousand Years. C. P. Sanger"; others are from A. Nolan and Margaret Atwood).

The central imagery is paced with rich, lush panels that seem to jump from some classic Impressionism scene or celebrated Asian landscape to a new level of breath, concentration and immediacy. Some are framed with boldly toned parallel bands, two are infused with lustrous gold leaf, and two are overlaid with stately cascading disks, adding to the strata of articulations.

Weir's 11 pieces are made of stoneware, glazed and coloured and sometimes incorporating other materials.

The sculptures are vigorous and muscular, and present a distinctly elfin countenance - which is not to say they are impishly cute, but seriously engaged in their own otherworldly pursuits. They are often posed in pairs of figures, in settings that are both recognizable and dreamlike, giant-like atop a saltbox, maybe, or around a magical tree. Even more fantastic are the pieces that situate a man or woman standing on top of a wild creature, like an alligator, lizard or bear, in a configuration that alludes to both yin/yang balance and ego/id domination.

Weir's sculptures display a realism of stance and posture, a strength and weight of sinew and bone, and their hands are particularly delineated and lovely. Their facial features and expressions often resemble each other (even when left to a minimal hint of eyes, nose or frown). This reinforces the mythic sensibility of the pieces as a whole, that they are not based on humans and scaled down to stand on pedestals, but in fact replications of these creatures at their true size. It is this vision that can place two figures on a tarred peak in "Roof Sitters: Mother and Son," or place three impossible cards in the palm of the player in "If all Hands Were Magic."

The works of Antle and Weir continue at the Christina Parker Gallery until Aug. 2.

Heather Millar's exhibition, "Forgotten" - oil paintings of discarded, rescued vintage toys, runs concurrently in the side gallery.

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