Bill Featherston: New World Order
The Art Gallery of the South Okanagan
Penticton BC Jan 18Mar 9, 2008
Bill Featherston, Condi Plays, Lebanons Ablaze, mixed media on board [Art Gallery of the South Okanagan, Penticton BC, Jan 18-Mar 9]
At 80 years of age, British Columbia painter Bill Featherston may best be remembered by a generation of artists for his dominating personality and brusque critiques at the Vancouver Art School in the years before it was renamed Emily Carr College. Never one to hold back, Featherston's straight-forward criticism inspired artists like Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Laurie Papou, Attila Richard Lukacs, Derek Root, Angela Grossmann and Graham Gillmore.
Featherston's own art is equally guileless and pointed. Since moving to the West Coast in 1971, his large-scale figurative paintings have documented the social concerns of working-class heroes and characters that populate his small-town B.C. community.
Recent work depends on political satire of imperialist and corporate forces. In New World Order, a group of images of public spectacles combine contemporary issues with references to paintings by Magritte, Ingres and Rousseau. With grand themes like Ozymandius and the burning of Nero's Rome, he places controversial 20th century figures like Harvey Milk and Condoleezza Rice in art historical settings. His accusatory satires are well-aimed at the viewer's discomfort. These are shown together with a series of self-portraits that document Featherston's ongoing interest in composition, colour, style and in materials.