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16 Mar 2013 – 21 May 2013
Suzanne Swannie, Zodiac: Sagitarrius 2012
From time to time, MSVU Art Gallery presents exhibitions of art drawn from the Mount Saint Vincent University Collection. In this grouping of recent acquisitions, the importance of colour is the quality shared by otherwise disparate works. Chromophilia means love of colour.
The selection of works by Nova Scotian artists and artisans includes encaustic paintings by Peter Dykhuis, ceramics by Lucky Rabbit Pottery (Debra Kuzyk and Ray Mackie) and textiles by Suzanne Swannie.
The hierarchical thinking that privileges line or design over colour also raises art above craft. However, the selection of art and craft in Chromophilia dispenses with binary distinctions. It encourages viewers to consider the versatility of colour as a decorative, structural and expressive element.
When viewed from the side, the footed bowl thrown by Ray Mackie and decorated by Debra Kuzyk balances a gracefully contoured silhouette against the lively, graphic surface design on its outer wall. When viewed from above, the mutually intensifying reds and greens of the bowl’s interior appear independently of the bowl’s silhouette, giving the vessel a dual personality defined on the one hand by line and on the other by hue. Equally decorative in its effect, the pooled, dripped, greenish-blue glaze on Mackie’s Swimming Rays poetically evokes the ocean.
Suzanne Swannie’s miniature Zodiac tapestries demonstrate a design principle similar to Deb Kuzyk’s, in that high chroma hues are never adjacent, but always separated by a thin black line or by wider bands of black and white. In Swannie’s carpet study Brud, the adjacent red and orange fields are nearly indistinguishable—but the optical ambivalence of these closely valued colours is offset by the bold tonal contrasts of geometrically defining black and white bands. The combination of analogous colours and contrasting values produces the spatially dynamic effect of planes sliding over and under one another.
The resemblance to pixels in the weave pattern of Swannie’s tiny tapestries resonates with the modular composition and broken colour daubs of Peter Dykhuis’ multi-panelled encaustic paintings. Dykhuis’ subject matter and colours are appropriated from the computer screen, whose luminosity is approximated by the translucency and sheen of pigmented beeswax. Both paintings reproduce satellite weather maps issued in association with Hurricane Juan (2003). Their brilliant hues are offset with zones of white or panels of pixelated black striping. These serve to accentuate the graph-like structure of the paintings, complimenting the info-graphic connotations of colours that have been selected for bit size rather than beauty.
Opening ReceptionJoin us for the opening reception and meet the artists on Saturday, 16 March from 3 to 5pm.
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