Gabryel Harrison, Flowers of Avernus (2008), oil and mixed media [Jacana Gallery, Vancouver BC, May 3-25]
With her third solo exhibition at Jacana Gallery in so many years, Vancouver artist Gabryel Harrison delivers another passionate and edgy body of work. In some of the finest and most self-assured painting in Vancouver, Harrison plumbs the essence of blood-red and labia-pink flowers in dripping and tumbling compositions of blossoms and buds. Her search for what she describes as the pain and passion
the struggle and the ultimate surrender...of our own existence is palpable, as if she has plunged her hands into the darkness of entrails and wrenched flowers forward onto the picture plane.
Harrison paints primarily in oil on canvas, sometimes with acrylic under-painting or touches of beeswax, tar and gold powder. The paintings in the exhibit range from 18 inches to five feet. While earlier works featured single blossoms or isolated florals on dark backgrounds, the new paintings are lively fields of impressionist flowers in all stages of growth and disintegration. Forms begin to lose their edges, mirroring her belief that there is no real separation, only the veils of our limited awareness. Sonorous and fiery, they simultaneously arouse feelings of mortality and hope.
Harrison has numerous educational credits, including two years at the Vancouver Academy of Art, a diploma in Art Therapy, B.A. in Fine Arts (1983) from Ottawa University, a year at Torontos Ryerson Photographic Arts, and two years in liberal arts at the University of Victoria, B.C. Her studies of botanical forms and painting techniques have fused in a highly idiosyncratic and fascinating personal style.