Leyton Gallery's guests on display

Joan Sullivan
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Visual art

The seven visual artists in "Guests of the Gallery" are beguilingly taken with counterpositions of interior and exterior, appearance and character.

Objects are gorgeously rendered in wax or paint, their edges and forms given the heft of a ship's prow, or a veil of compacted perspectives. People are captured in full, calm view, or their faces are excavated from strata of enfolding, crackling tones. A cup and saucer, a girl in a black dress and shoes, a cluster of figurines; all these different subjects are articulated with distinction, import and wit and seven very strong and divergent senses of theme and style.

Ginok Song Summer. Submitted photo

The seven visual artists in "Guests of the Gallery" are beguilingly taken with counterpositions of interior and exterior, appearance and character.

Objects are gorgeously rendered in wax or paint, their edges and forms given the heft of a ship's prow, or a veil of compacted perspectives. People are captured in full, calm view, or their faces are excavated from strata of enfolding, crackling tones. A cup and saucer, a girl in a black dress and shoes, a cluster of figurines; all these different subjects are articulated with distinction, import and wit and seven very strong and divergent senses of theme and style.

Jillian Waite's still lifes include unusual, yet simple and even formal arrangements, like a stack of teacups, a diptych of keys, a pair of old-fashioned suitcases or a row of stoppered vessels.

They are encaustics, and this thick, sometimes chancy medium works beautifully with the rich, matte bowls of the teacups, the stylized motifs and ceramic patterns of the containers and the mottled, creamy backgrounds.

Ginok Song has already (to my eyes) shown two completely different series of paintings, including her manoeuvering and somehow unreal configurations of dancers, and her dauby impressionistic landscapes. Now she takes another lovely jump, with nine oil paintings, all portraits, mostly of girls and young women.

Their character is expressed not just in their features, but also in every element of the paintings. The backgrounds include foliage, a kitchen and a riverbank. The costumes could be a purple sleeveless dress or jeans and a ruffled white shirt. There are sweet quirky details in their surroundings, like a shadowed black cat on a side table. They are usually in a classic three-quarter profile pose, full of composure. In each piece, Song's eye and sensibility is so there, spread over the canvas in the offbeat, in the overall.

In tonal contrast, Jerome Cigara's faces materialize through lines of stress and layers of distress. He works with coatings of oil and sheets of tissue paper. His faces, which all seem male, are, if still, unhappy, and if restless, deeply agitated and protesting. Nothing is quiet in these frames, as even the paint is fissured and edgy.

Not all the artists work in paint. There are two benches of concrete, wood and steel from Christina Hilborne. The planked seating has been salvaged and repurposed, at least once and even twice, in the case of wood saved from a shipwreck at Flatrock, then used in a house, and now presented here. Paul Bright has some collages and a sound piece, blended together in a side gallery. Annette Manning's raku fire clay and crystals pieces are from her series "Heart Relics."

These are, certainly, organic, to the extent they are pulped with veins and valves and blood-seeking openings, but they are also completely recast and removed by the media, from physical cell and sinew into a startling jeweled calcification.

Karen Channing's works, acrylic paintings with photo transfer, are polished and alluring. The subjects are as kitschy or precious as any you would see at a second-hand or thrift shop - possibly even some higher-end auction house - but they convey an aspect of having been used, in that they are useful or have had a purpose. They glitter and shine. They are represented very clearly, and yet, the whole thing is like a holographic game.

The transition between photo and paint is seamless, but continually introduces a whole new plane, even dimension. The familiar, even folksy cut-glass cats, white fluted-vases, porcelain shoes and pillar candles, arranged with a deeply embedded sense of choice and assignment, move in and out of delineated planes and mille feuille light, which is splonged and blurred exactly. These are fascinating works, crisp and dreamy.

"Guests of the Gallery" continues at the Leyton Gallery until April 25.

Organizations: Flatrock

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