Exhibits continue at The Leyton Gallery of Fine Art until Sept.25

Joan Sullivan
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A group exhibition titled “Interiors” suggests it is open to anything. In terms of strict art definition, an interior means a representational view from within a building or room.

Yet the word evokes so much more. As an adjective it refers to the inside (or the inland), something surrounded, a space not close to a coastline or a border. The idea of an interior life is linked to mental and spiritual (as opposed to physical) processes.

This kind of tactics and manners of the mind or the soul also fall under “interiority.” (And then there’s “interior decorating,” a whole other question.)

Interiors can be enclosed, even locked, places, something private. The separate space could be a bedroom, or a memory, or a concept.

Applied to panel or canvas, these can be shown as sparse or lavish, accessible or encoded. Interiors can structure a scene, compose a still life, or configure abstractions of thought and feeling.

As these six artists (Jack Botsford, Bonnie Leyton, Jonathan O’Dea, Michael Pittman, Louise Sutton, Jillian Waite) present their interiors in different frames and multiple media, we see elegant antiques, buoyant soirees, arrangements of flowers, and juxtapositions of shapes and forms in varying degrees of realism and surrealism. This is a colourful show, and a tactile one.

There are sharp details and almost musical fusions, natural tones and neon tracings and whorls of colours. And even the most recognizable of pieces seems to convey hints and implications.

O’Dea’s “Bounce” (pastel), for example, is a bowl of pears, obviously, but so exact and luscious they hold a promise to equal the light that leaps and limns their curves. Waite’s pieces (encaustic and other surfaces) show some lovely collectibles, “English Candlesticks,” “Flower Frog 1910,” “Epergne 1914,” “Marigold Evening Glass,” “Japanese Cup and Saucer 1915.”

And these are clearly the subjects (an epergne is a kind of table centerpiece, old-fashioned and very fancy; this was explained to me at the gallery and I pass the information along to save you a trip to the dictionary).

But they are viewed from unexpected angles. The cup and saucer, for example, is seen from directly overhead, and positioned right at the top of a narrow panel, like the bloom of a tall ceramic rose.

This background is especially tangible, as it is worked in eggshell. Botsford’s “Out the Kitchen Window,” “P is for Peony” (prints with additional media) are bright, definite, and domestic, and contoured to give fresh, striking balances and counterpoints, as with the red petals of a pony and a blush of crimson in a wash along the bottom edge, or the flower’s black centre and the black keys on a piano.

Leyton’s works (oil and conte on black gessoed canvas) are often of crowds, at the theatre, or in a restaurant, but  “The Three Graces,” “The Fiddler,” and the other pieces take a kind of aside or askant view of what’s happening. Their focus and interest is not directed centre stage, but off to the sides, perhaps to what is really going on.

Pittman’s mixed-media on-panels continue to develop his particular and individual iconography, with stripes and spikes and mottlings, staircases and ladders and whales, houses and full moons and aquanauts all floating and rising in relationships of images and impressions.

Studying Sutton’s acrylic paintings, which include “Passage,” “Quiet Room,” and “Evening Window,” I kept writing words — abstract; organic — and then crossing them out. A lot of her work shows arrays of squares, or squarish, shapes, but they are not rigid with geometry or simply about their own rapport but instead stir, progress and pulse with animation in their lovely hues of lilac, buff and gold.

Concurrent to “Interiors,” Anita Singh has “Waxworks,” a solo exhibition of encaustic over monotype and collage, strata which she has sometimes carved into and away. These are often small pieces, showing a pair of hands, some birds, a quartet of seeds and areas of patterning and motifs in lustrous, warm colours, including orange, blue, purple, and green. Rich, compacted work.

“Interiors” and “Waxworks” continue at The Leyton Gallery of Fine Art until Sept. 25.

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