One gallery, two differing visions

Joan Sullivan
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Reflections

Painting is a play of light over form, an engagement of colour and surface. Two painters currently exhibiting at Christina Parker Gallery, Grant Boland ("New Paintings") and Will Gill ("New Work") take diametrical approaches to the art form, but their differing processes reflect well off each other.

Boland's style is classic, realistic and often incandescent. One of his works here is "Two Vessels" (oil on panel) with a wooden cask and a ceramic bottle. The pair of forms fills the frame. They are earth-toned, and the whole work is done in shades of brown, ebony, buff and sand, with the foreground and background warm and elemental. It is lit, strongly, from the front.

Grant Boland's "Mauzy Night" oil on canvas, 2008. - Submitted photo

Painting is a play of light over form, an engagement of colour and surface. Two painters currently exhibiting at Christina Parker Gallery, Grant Boland ("New Paintings") and Will Gill ("New Work") take diametrical approaches to the art form, but their differing processes reflect well off each other.

Boland's style is classic, realistic and often incandescent. One of his works here is "Two Vessels" (oil on panel) with a wooden cask and a ceramic bottle. The pair of forms fills the frame. They are earth-toned, and the whole work is done in shades of brown, ebony, buff and sand, with the foreground and background warm and elemental. It is lit, strongly, from the front.

This throws a dark oval shadow behind the objects, which sit on a plank shelf. Details emerge from the natural palette, like the binding rims of the cask, and the impressed stylized circles of the jug. The light centres on a small sun on the front of that container, which then passes into darkness, its circular orbit cast away in shade.

"November" (oil on panel) is a street scene, Rawlin's Cross on a rainy night. A woman in a white raincoat and hat is turned slightly towards the viewer. The spot-focused, artificial light triangulates on the front of the Stella Burry cafÉ, and pools on the slick pavement and the woman's head and shoulders. The sense of narrative, of a freeze-frame within a film, is also present in the number of still lifes, which include those of onions, pears, and pink lady apples, as well as a toy, "Jack's Boat."

Boland's work recreates volume, scope and entire scenes. Gill's shapes, in contrast, occupy their own peculiar perspective and make their own rules. They are filled with the contours of spouting fountains, a splash of flowers, weird constructions of circles and webby lines, intersecting fundamental planes of red and black squares, and ladders in white and yellow. Shapes as diverse as ice cream cones, octopus tentacles and bisecting X's in a flock of airplanes are rendered flatly. The depth here comes from the colour play, whites leaping forward, cool aquas receding, purples claiming their space. The interplay between the forms and tones builds the planes and fields.

Boland's iconography comes from the world around him. But he does much more than simply portray what he sees. Pieces like "Tavern in Prague," or "Train Station, Budapest," which at first look like crisp, moody black and white photos, are actually articulated in gouache, conte, charcoal and graphite. These give the work a particular glamour and pop.

Boland's interest seems to linger on almost anything, as recent exhibits have arced off Havana, desserts, or a certain bar located off some steps between Duckworth and Water Streets. He has painted Purity Boxes, biblical figures, and film noir scenarios. Their realistic sheen and gel is always very approachable; at the same time, Boland seems always to extend his explorations and hone his ability of storytelling.

Gill's pictography is his own, naive, simplistic and layered. Though much less representational than Boland - in fact, he's not representational at all - Gill's configurations are invitingly crafted and coloured.

"Cemetery Park" is as frisky and playful as "Gum Machine" (both acrylic and collage on panel), with the tombstones and crosses of the former as animated and full of bouncy colours as the latter's gumballs. Others pinwheel and spring with clouds of vanilla and spokes of red and orange. Their energy vaults from the walls.

Concurrent to these shows is a group exhibit of CPG featured artists, including Scout Goudie, Kym Greeley, and a deft little suite of iceberg paintings from Tara Bryan. Among the others, Robin Smith-Peck has a few of her multimedia works (digital/relief printmaking, acrylic on rice paper), haunting, otherworldly things that brim with elegance and delicacy.

Grant Boland, "New Paintings," and Will Gill, "New Work," continues at Christina Parker Gallery until Dec. 20.

Geographic location: Prague, Budapest, Havana

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