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James Gordaneer: “Out of the Shadows”

Fran Willis Gallery, Victoria BC
Nov 7-30

James Gordaneer - Polo Match

Jim Gordaneer, Polo Match, (2002), oil on canvas [Fran Willis Gallery, Victoria BC, Nov 7-30]

This exhibition of work by Victoria painter James Gordaneer brings together the two defining aspects of his art: outdoor landscape sketching and large-scale figurative studio compositions. In his imagery, Gordaneer seeks to bridge the landscape tradition of Canada and the brushwork of abstract expressionism. The paintings have a twisted, earthy, primitive feel that capture well the artist's struggle to make clear on canvas his visual and emotional responses to the subject matter.

Loose renderings of movement amidst swirls and shapes of background colour define these images. The colours have a dark tone; the subjects are layered on multiple planes. In some, several views of rural life are combined. Themes from musicians to polo players come alive with sketchy contour lines and halo effects, creating a sense of movement.

During the past fifty years of prolific painting, Gordaneer has explored plein air sketching, abstraction, expressionism, surrealism and, more recently, a more direct kind of figuration. Gordaneer sees three meanings in the show title: that the studio canvasses were derived from representations of shadows sketched outdoors; that he as an artist, is emerging from what he terms "the weight" of his earlier styles and the influence of mentors; and that, after a long self-imposed seclusion, he personally is coming out of the shadows with this exhibit.

© Mia Johnson

 Sun, Nov 3, 2002