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August 12, 2011

There are a dozen artworks currently in our country that changed the world of art. I’m speaking of the Caravaggio exhibition at the National Gallery in Ottawa. This is a first. Well, the last time there were this many pieces by the Italian master on the continent was back in the early eighties at the Metropolitan in New York. In fact, that show had twice as many pieces than the current show in Ottawa. Nonetheless, this show is a once in a lifetime blockbuster. Rare squared!  

Caravaggio and his Followers in Rome hones-in on key Caravaggio pieces and spins off with the impact that he made on his contemporaries and beyond. The show is comprehensive in gauging this seventeenth century maverick and his revolutionary style. If you’ve seen the show, I’d love to hear some of your impressions… here are some of mine:

  • I was surprised to learn that Rome in Caravaggio’s day was about the size of  Whitby with a population just over 100,000
  • there are a mere 70 known works authored by Caravaggio
  • a small exhibition design critique—the paintings are hung too high for the average viewer, not too mention kids, people in wheelchairs, etc.
  • a large exhibition design accolade—excellent interpretive resources such as a “tableau vivant” room where you can get your picture taken dressed up in period costumes, a screening room running a documentary about Caravaggio, short and informative docent talks, an amazing brochure, etc.
  • Artemisia Gentileschi’s The Beheading of Holofernes (painted exactly 400 years ago) was a sparkling highlight—a bloody mess!
  • Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers a major exhibition sponsor–how fitting for an oil painting show?
St. Francis in Ecstasy (1595) currently at the NGC

June 4, 2010

It’s been a hectic installation week both here at Station Gallery with Darlene Cole’s show, as well as a group show at the Visual Arts Centre that I’m showing in along with Jane Eccles and Chris Down. At this point, there are only finishing touches left for both exhibitions. Darlene’s show looks elegant. Earlier in the week, when she brought her canvases, the smell of the oil paintings made me long for those college years when I painted. There’s something about the sense of smell that elicits the past in such an immediate way. Oil painting is the perfect medium for conveying memory and Darlene’s show certainly does that very well.

The VAC show titled After Pictures is an initiative of Todd Tremeer who is the guest curator of the project and it explores the connection between hand-generated visual art with lens-based media, like movies and photos. I enjoyed Todd’s observation of how many artists today use photo sources much as artists in the past used preparatory sketches for larger works. His thesis is tested in After Pictures. Jane’s paintings are skilled representations which add a rich colour to the show. It’s been almost a decade since I saw Chris’s work at Western; his new drawings are edgy and visceral. To this mix, I’ve added some old and newer pieces sourced from Soviet photos and Italian films. I’m most excited about a new work in the third floor loft space. It’s a huge projection of burning drawings. I can’t wait for some feedback on this video. So, the stage is set–this Sunday will be the opening reception at the VAC–hope you can make it. 

burning drawing in latest video

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