A new set of exhibitions at Gibsons Public Art Gallery brings together three local artists working in three widely varying modes of portraiture – contemporary digital art, traditional, and the wholly unexpected.
Kasia Krolikowska has put together a striking collection of digital collages she’s called Life As Illusion. As Krolikowska notes in her artistic statement, she is “exploring abstract narratives through these dynamic, multi-layered ideas and imagery.” The result is a group of pieces with provocative titles like Tears and Pain For Sale, and, You lie to yourself, you’re still a liar. The works are about intersecting themes, namely, “the body, sexuality, conflict, consumerism, and culture,” she wrote. Though the subjects are serious, she has found the art form itself allows for much spontaneity and experiment.
“This process is done more intuitively than [through] planning,” Krolikowska said in an interview. She starts with a foundation of facial photographs then adds elements and layers. “It’s an adventure. With digital, it’s unpredictable, but at the same time, it’s so quick to correct. If some layers don’t work, you just remove them and put in something different.” The easy freedom of digital art requires an experienced sensibility to know when to stop experimenting and hit “print,” and Krolikowska does.
The 16 paintings in Coral Arrand’s exhibition, Fascinating Women, are all traditional portraiture, the form that she said has provided the most satisfaction in her decades-long artistic exploration, which she’s been able to delve into full time since retiring eight years ago. “Not that I haven’t painted landscapes, I have,” Arrand said. “But it doesn’t draw me like portraits.”
For many years she did portraits in black and white, but now is shifting steadily in the other direction. “I wanted to start doing more experimental portraits and see what unfolds in more colour, with a bit more drama.”
Almost all of Arrand’s subjects here – with the exception of one self-portrait – are friends, which comes through in the skillfully frank yet warm images. She said she works both from photographs and personal sittings. Her goal, Arrand wrote in her statement, has been, “not just to create a pleasant likeness, but to connect the viewer to the energy, the power and the uniqueness of these individual women.”
As for the unexpected, Jayme Chalmers’ exhibit is entitled Sculptures from Books and that’s not a metaphor, it is literally what he has done. Chalmers, a 2013 master of arts graduate from the University of Calgary and now a Bowen Island resident, has taken books – bindings, covers, pages and all – and immersed them in a resin which hardens into a medium he can then sculpt by cutting away and sanding.
Chalmers has done a lot of work in impressionistic mixed-media portraits, in a form he’s called The Performative Portrait (also the title of his master’s thesis). This latest series continues that theme uniquely, as he’s sculpted the faces of authors or of characters from the book, right into the book, and added a watercolour wash. So, we have the face of Scarlett O’Hara sculpted right into the book Gone with the Wind; legendary player Honus Wagner in the Baseball Encyclopedia; and Leo Tolstoy in his epic novel, War and Peace. These are the unique creations of artistic innovation and imagination.
The exhibitions continue until Sept. 7. The gallery is open seven days a week in August, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hours will be more limited come September.