New exhibit: ‘Summer Dreams’

Joan Sullivan
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Acrylic paintings, idiosyncratic compositions by Toby Rabinowitz

Gulls by Jennifer Barrett —Submitted Photo

“Summer Dreams” is a solo show of 15 new acrylic paintings from Toby Rabinowitz. They feature what we have come to see as her idiosyncratic compositions.

There are lots of particular and personal configurations of subjects from both the everyday, and the fantastic. There are often running sequences of evergreens or waves or seraphs, or near-mirrorings of pairs of forms, like boats or doves.

But this is not about repetition. Instead, it is about relationships, as the figures are placed in emotional and psychological clusters and sets, often clearly grouped in comradeship or matrimony.

There are exceptions to these assemblings. Some pieces centre on a singular shape, instead of a design that fills the canvas.

“The Elephant Party,” for example, has what seems to be one central animal, with a motif of flowers above.

“The Purple House” likewise shows one structure, slightly off centre, fronted by flowers, sided by trees, and enclosed with a curving arboreal skyline and curling quarter moon.

That last detail is another constant. Rabinowitz’s skies are always as alive as anything else in the paintings. They bounce and stream with red splodges, green-on-green veils and golden hieroglyphics.

In addition to continuing to explore these arrangements, Rabinowitz persists in stretching her imagination and expanding her brushstroke and palette.

There are lots of bright colours side by side in vibrant arias, but there are also some quieter tones humming together.

“Mystic Dreams” (all the pieces are 12” x 12”) especially holds this attention to hue and detail. From the bottom, the work unfolds with red-petaled, brown-stemmed flowers, opening to red trees.

They are set against a light blue ground and dark blue sky that intersects in unexpected triangular lines. Above, yellow stars dance with red-and-blue butterflies.

Everything is outlined in colours that include pink, yellow and blue.

Throughout, objects are usually presented in a kind of perceptive, not actual, size. They are as large as Rabinowitz’s paintings need them to be. Flowers are as big as trees. Butterflies equal birds. Ducks in a foreground are the measure of seabirds on a distant horizon.

But this does not disconcert, or appear flat. All is in play, as in “5 Cats on the Move.” And all is in harmony, a concept that feels important to this visual artist. Who else would paint “Angels Holding Hands in the Forest”?

Indeed, gentleness and accord is key to these synchronizations. This is underscored even in the titles: “The Whale’s Wedding”; “Happy Birds”; “Chagall’s Friend.” Even the moon in “In the Forest” is smiling. (Reverie is an important theme, too. “Dreaming Dog” and the abovementioned “Mystic Dream” are among the other pieces.)

Rabinowitz’s painted worlds are places of sweet potential, expressive depth and marvel.

Concurrently, the Leyton Gallery’s “Annual Summer Show” includes work from a half dozen artists: Jonathan O’Dea with his cogent still lifes of fruit; an ever more narrative Michael Pittman; Jack Botsford; Jennifer Barrett; Sarah Hillock; and Carolyne Honey Harrison, whose work includes two deeply coloured and crisply organized collages of still life interiors.

“Summer Dreams” and the “Annual Summer Show” continue at the Leyton Gallery until Aug. 28.

Organizations: Elephant Party, Purple House, Angels Holding Hands

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