William Adolphe Bouguereau Portrait of Eugene Bouguereau 1850
Giderot Troison Mademoiselle Lange as Danae
Baron Francois Pascal Simon Gerard Desiree Clary, Queen of Sweden
Jean Baptiste Greuze The White Hat
Frederick ChurchEdwin Moses viewing the Promised Land1846
I have become obsessed with exploring ovals, as a format and as a compositional motif. As with most creative explorations, this fascination reared its rounded head unexpectedly. In the past, I've made circular pictures and painted elliptical subject matter (fuel drums receding into space, satellite dishes, tank farms, and so forth) - but I have never worked on oval canvasses, deeming them too emotional, corny or retardataire. No time to address this nagging insecurity, this unreasonable fear, like the present! Above are a fistful of art historical examples of this tried and true shape; a superb shape for portraiture (busts) because of the way it echoes the contours of the sitter's head and the attitude of the shoulders. Excellent for landscape when tipped sideways. Maybe it has something to do with our perception - the way we see, given the shape of the human eye socket - our scope of vision. I hope to post a few of my own 'ovals' in my next installment.
On the night of February 24th, I was lucky to have been able to attend Harcourt House's 'double-header' openings of Lindsey Bond's Negotiating Spaces: Visual Recollections of Train Travel Across Canada and Marie-Eve Martel's AgriculturalEclipse. Both artist's exhibitions lament, each in their distinct way, the loss of simpler times and solid values that Canadians are experiencing in the face of the juggernaut of 'progress'. Martel depicts farm buildings that are about to be leveled to make way for ever-expanding urban development. Bond has traveled by passenger train from one end of the country to the other, rediscovering a now archaic mode of transportation while photo-documenting the trip using several different cameras. Both artists seem to be taking fond glances back in time, asking the viewer(s) what might happen next: How will history unfold? Sadness, hope and beauty pervade in the two shows. The next afternoon I was delighted to have a studio visit from Marie-Eve Martel. My current output has much in common with her recent imagery so we were able to compare notes and get to know each other a little better. Solidarity!
What else? Between paying attention to a plethora of life's duties, I've been making small paintings to donate to gallery fundraisers; AGA, HH, VAAA. Cross Currents, the painting featured at the top of this post, is a restructured pine crucifix with 'value-added' glow-in-the-dark edges. Tiny, at 19 x 15 cm, it goes to the Visual Arts Alberta Association's pre-Easter show and sale.
Another recent interest branching off the main stem of my regular studio activity is an exploration of oval formats and objects. I'm revisiting and reprising formal concerns that I was exploring twenty years ago. That's material for the next post, though.