Review by Barbara Bucknall
Show by Strong Brock Art Students at NAC
This show includes some pieces by Brock Art students who were in the previous show, but also includes more that weren’t. I saw the previous show as tender and poetic and also inclined to fantasy, but this is not the case for this one. Variety is what really characterizes this show. I was rather taken aback by it at first and didn’t quite know what to say about it because it didn’t have an overall feeling tone like the previous one.
There is one striking picture that might be seen as fantastic because it uses Chinese symbols, that is the animals that stand for the various years, depicted in a fanciful kind of way, but to the student who painted it, these animals would seem quite familiar and belonging to the domestic world rather than to the world of fantasy. This was the picture I liked best. It was called “Nine Years in Canada” by Yuta and includes a somewhat dreamy, melancholy self-portrait. It is in fact a mixture of melancholy and humour because the animals are depicted in a way that is playful and full of fun. I feel this ambiguity lends it depth.
Two other pictures really impressed me but they were quite different. They are both quite powerful and in your face. One is a large, anatomically correct male nude, a young man lying on his front but with genitals exposed. Once more it is in “the X-rated corner.” THere is not much colour contrast. It has a rather evocative title, “Pasture Parts” and is by Sarah Bryans. The title suggests that the artist likes to feel free to graze on this young man. The other is “Barren Rainbow” by André Gascon. It is a riot of colour –all the colours of the rainbow plus white. I suppose it is a barren rainbow because all the colours are dislocated and not in a rainbow shape, but that makes it so much more interesting. A hose pipe next to it suggests that the colours are sprayed on.
Two other pictures I also liked and which were quite humorous in a sardonic kind of way were “Transmigration” by Kaia Toop, which shows the subject of the painting developing from a jar of preserves and some vases of flowers to curled up fox, and “The Comfort of a Rubber Duck” by Kerry Ann Murphy, which shows a woman in a bath tub entirely surrounded by rubber ducks.
There were also two abstracts which have undeniable merit but are a little too austere for my personal taste. They are “Not Seen” by Matt Caldwell and “Fiber” by André Gascon.
I thought it was a pity that the various pieces seemed to have been selected more or less at random, and didn’t show each other off better. For instance, an untitled abstract by Jessica Wright which was very similar to one in the previous show didn’t show up nearly as well and looked rather out of place.