Small works, new works

Joan Sullivan
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Two shows, four artists share space at the Leyton Gallery

The three visual artists in "New Works" have pieces that both interact with and ricochet off each other. This exhibition includes the dreamy, edgy sequences of Greg Bennett, the etched and burnished abstractions of Michael Pittman, and the fantastic graphic schema of Kent Jones. Together they weave a spell of engagement and expression.

Obstruction #4(Ablution) Michael Pittman. Submitted photo

St. John's - The three visual artists in "New Works" have pieces that both interact with and ricochet off each other. This exhibition includes the dreamy, edgy sequences of Greg Bennett, the etched and burnished abstractions of Michael Pittman, and the fantastic graphic schema of Kent Jones. Together they weave a spell of engagement and expression.
Jones' paintings and drawings are often the same piece rendered in different media, as in "Chicago," which is done in both a colour pencil work and a larger mixed media acrylic piece. This shows a skyline of leaning office towers, largely featureless, in black and white against the palest yellow. They are stalks gathered into a tall, slanted urbanism.
The execution is much in his style, with clean lines, slightly offbeat (and never overwhelming) colour, and, seemingly, any kind of configuration. Other pieces and pairings show dogs, wheeling flags, or edifices. Jones kind of blocks out his pieces similarly to how some early 20th-century German playwrights peopled their plays - with angsty clowns, Art Deco details, banana splits …
Pittman, too, has his own vernacular. His mixed media on panels could have an outlined house on the horizon, backed by a sky of buff scratchings and fronted by a darkling crimson plain, as in "Cauter," or a whale's spout of feathered dove gray in "Funeral Pot," or a thick fawn-toned grid in "Portcullis."
These are shapes that are non-shapes, things that are not things, with their zigzag outlines, weird scale and strange, absolute, dreamlike relationships. They are both immediate and ghostly.
This trancelike atmosphere is also found in Bennett's work, which is grouped in four series of oil paintings, in fairly small uniform blocks, showing a cycle of activities that unfold like flipbook movies. "Halos @ Night" and "Burning Peter's Table" have an almost bewitching use of light in the flares and flames that inform the colour and compositions, while "She Stops To Pet The Dog" is tantalizingly lucid in its depiction of a simple stop-start string of simple events set against a night scene of the corner of Gower and Prescott.
Anita Singh's "Small Works" are a multitude of prints, with some collage elements. Singh has long had colour and pattern down, infusing pieces with vibrancy and dynamism, but these seem to represent a shift to something more cohesive, and sparer. Spare for this artist still means the colours and shapes run fully from frame to frame, and the backdrops are densely floral, even where they are not actually of flowers. But there is also a nice breath and balance.
Many of these prints pair one kind of form - a beetle, a clutch of devil's purses, pebbles, or ants - with a background abloom with petals and dollops of colour. "Devil Maple Dance" has a flight of three pods soaring over swirls and buds of peach, violet and rose, while "Flower Moth" has the lightly brown winged insect hovering over a creamy, gleaming environment. Others, like "Cells," pair more microscopic, organic forms with the luminous, earthy palette.
There are also a batch of landscapes that, again, counterpoise two different aspects, this time in panels, one atop the other. "Land, Rocks," or "Land, Flower" position a vista above a view of stones or stems. The two planes share a colour tone, maybe cool green or spicy yellow, unifying the sections, and the effect is something like a zoom in or jump cut.
"Small Works" and "New Works" continue at the Leyton Gallery of Fine Art until Nov. 1.

Organizations: Bennett's

Geographic location: St. John's, Chicago, Gower

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  • AllThatJazz
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I feel sorry for the artists' whose work you review in this article, Joan Sullivan, because frankly, your writing stinks. There's no substance to any of your descriptions of the artwork, and one can only hope, if one has not already decided to skip the exhibit altogether, that the works are not as pretentious and meaningless as what you have to say about them.

  • Castaway
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    George, from Alberta, I join you in pointing out that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. Unfortunately, we are living in times of mediocrity. A point in case: Just look at the choices we have to vote for on Tuesday.

  • George
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Gawd ! What a pile of drivel. 5 year-olds randomly splashing paint on paper could do as good.

  • AllThatJazz
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    I feel sorry for the artists' whose work you review in this article, Joan Sullivan, because frankly, your writing stinks. There's no substance to any of your descriptions of the artwork, and one can only hope, if one has not already decided to skip the exhibit altogether, that the works are not as pretentious and meaningless as what you have to say about them.

  • Castaway
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    George, from Alberta, I join you in pointing out that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. Unfortunately, we are living in times of mediocrity. A point in case: Just look at the choices we have to vote for on Tuesday.

  • George
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    Gawd ! What a pile of drivel. 5 year-olds randomly splashing paint on paper could do as good.