From world, to touch, to eye

Joan Sullivan
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‘Our Printmakers’ exhibit showcases 3 artists at Red Ochre Gallery

The trio of visual artists whose work is featured in “Our Printmakers,” the current show being held at the Red Ochre Gallery, intersect at the basic juncture of medium.

“Season’s Landfall.” — Sylvia Bendzsa

All these works are indeed prints, but their pieces diverge widely in the myriad applications integral to the practice.

Veselina Tomova’s monotypes, Sylvia Bendzsa’s etchings and Jennifer Morgan’s collages include highly individual markings and shapes and spectrums, let alone subject matter and ambiance.

Printmaking is not limited by material, only by imagination, and all three artists have dollops of that.

Tomova’s work is infused with a generousity of colour, with pinks and peaches and blues and golds all brimming up against each other.

In fact, her work has a generousity. Period. A free spiritedness of figurative lines that bounce around and into harbours and galleons and queens, while slender lines give detail and direction.

Memory, allegory and sheer visual play combine into a sense of romance, and discovery.

In “Crossing Dry Rivers” a conveyance of noble ladies, in their headdresses and on their ponies, are rendered with rich, crackling, rippling rubies and oranges.

Different areas are treated distinctly in tone and depth, giving a contrapunctual sensation of form and time.

On the invitation, Tomova writes these are about “nautical tales, real or imagined.” And for sure pieces like “Green Rivers, Pink Rivers” and “Lush Islands” are like old maps, created not for direction, as they were not records of actual journies or a guide for neophyte travellers, but meant to show what creatures and concepts might exist, or had been mythically sighted, out there beyond the known world.

Bendzsa’s pieces (which include aquatints, intaglio chine-colle, and softground) are more austere and realistic and representational, with rural scenes of Petty Harbour and Old Bonaventure.

But placed in and blended within the blue water, brown stages and green hills are engagingly monochromatic dapplings of green, unexpected white patches (“Season I, Brigus”), and black and white cascades (“Forest Fern” “After the Hurricane”) that speckle into the trunks and limbs of forests.

Some works are also rendered in two panels, like “Winter Light,” a small and a slightly larger view of bare branches under sky, or “Tableland Rock,” with its almost equal-sized formats that play with scale, contrasting a close-up view of a striated rock in brown and cream with a mountain scape scooped with a lovely touch of valley shadow.

“Dear Emma” is the name of Morgan’s series, which comes from a collection of old postcards. “In film there is a principle called “third meaning” where two unrelated images are linked to create a narrative,” Morgan writes in her artist’s statement.

In these fair-sized works, she mixes text, interiors, and still life (which are often repeated, and sometimes arrayed upside-down) into an “historical fiction.”

They are composed of ephemera, and motif, and feel feminine, domestic, and belonging to the house — even the exterior views are often clearly being viewed through a window.

Morgan’s elegant balance is nicely juxtaposed with Tomova’s ungrudging exuberance and with Bendzsa’s unfussy, slightly legerdemain naturalism adding a third point on the triangle, this exhibition shows three ways of filling a frame, with intent, from world to touch to eye.

“Our Printmakers” continues at the Red Ochre Gallery until March 22.

Organizations: Red Ochre Gallery

Geographic location: Petty Harbour, Tableland

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