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R.B. Wainwright:
A dress... has many meanings

Nanaimo Art Gallery
Nanaimo BC Nov 19-Dec 17, 2005

R.B. Wainwright - Manzanilla's Journey – Part 3
R.B. Wainwright, Manzanilla's Journey – Part 3 (2003), monotype [Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo BC, Nov 19-Dec 2]

R.B. Wainwright is a painter and printmaker living on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. He takes an iconic image of a dress as his starting point and creates highly cryptic pictures full of figurative shapes, abstract symbols and geometric forms. The images are clearly delineated and compositionally structured, but highly personal and idiosyncratic. It is difficult to tell if they are artfully planned or free associations in a stream of consciousness.

Wainwright has been using the dress as the nexus of his work for several years. He sees it as an androgynous piece of apparel characterizing the human condition and our search for identity. While it covers our corporal bodies, it also represents the choices we make.

RB Wainwright - A Passing Ensemble
RB Wainwright, A Passing Ensemble

Despite their simple style, the prints are more surreal than child-like. They have the dark sensibility of film negatives. Coloured ink is printed on dark grounds, giving a slightly neon effect. The hand-printed ink appears roughly transferred and scrumbled. In others, the ink is liberally dripping down the images. In several pictures, the iconic form of the dress is subjected to a flash of lightning, a deluge of rain, or obliteration by snowstorm. Coupled with his tight little caricatures, the images conjure what the artist describes as “a whole host of considerations” – among them, spirituality, morality, mortality, eroticism, fantasy and the depths of the unconscious.


Mia Johnson

 Thu, Nov 3, 2005