ART REVIEW: Surfaces

Five women and their Surfaces. By Nicole Laidler. Gazette Staff

Art Review: Surfaces

The unique artistic approaches of five Canadian artists are currently on display at the Michael Gibson Gallery in downtown London.

Cathy Daley, Elizabeth McIntosh, Laura Millard, Gina Rorai and Lorraine Simms each use different artistic mediums and explore different themes to create their work.

Daley works with black oil pastel on vellum. Her whimsical drawings depict disembodied party-dresses and slender female legs that end in stiletto shoes. Daley’s dresses have an ephemeral quality, encouraging the viewer to question the relationship between fashion, fantasy and female identity.

McIntosh is the youngest artist of the group. Her large, colourful oil-on-canvas paintings are clearly influenced by pop art, presenting minimalist patterns of abstract shapes painted in cheerful primary colours against a white canvas. The paintings make an immediate visual impact, but offer little for further contemplation.

On the other hand, Millard’s cool mixed media works merit closer consideration. Millard begins with microscopic photographs of ice and then applies paint in response to the abstraction already found in nature. “Surge/Freeze” seems to capture the movement of light on water and snow, but the photographs actually depict air bubbles frozen in ice.

Rorai’s oil-on-canvas paintings are the most traditional works on display. Although abstracted by her bold use of paint, the objects in these interior scenes remain easily identifiable. Rorai paints images of other images, such as paintings and photographs, surrounded by everyday domestic objects.

The foreboding atmosphere of Simms’ oil-on-linen paintings makes them slightly out of place among the other works. The Montreal native is fascinated by an image’s ability to tell a story and the inherent ambiguity surrounding the truth presented in pictures. Although painted in oranges, reds, yellows and pinks, the shadowy, ambiguous nature of Simms’ imagery creates an unsettling effect.

Although Surfaces brings together five seemingly different artists, the exhibit is unified by the vitality and conviction inherent in each work.

Surfaces runs until May 31 at the Michael Gibson Gallery (157 Carling St.). Admission is free.