Robert Bigelow

Pengah Gallery, Vancouver
November 6 - 29

Untitled (1997),
acrylic on paper

CANADIAN PAINTER Robert Bigelow's images are considered to be highly personal and challenging to the viewer, and for good reason. Visually oriented, his painterly abstracts are unsettling and exciting. At the same time, they have an aggressive, startling edge.

Many of Bigelow's paintings have a sensibility reminiscent of the best abstracts by Jack Shadbolt, a well-known West Coast Canadian painter. Bigelow combines an automatist approach - a sense of the painter being "led" through the unconscious mind by the paintbrush itself - with a expressionist fluidity. A succession of animated marks, strokes, smudges and sweeps is transformed by more formal considerations into coalesced bodies caught in the moment of their transformation.

These are not paintings which take us away from the tensions of the world, but direct us to the tensions of the act of painting itself. Amidst the contemporary post-modernist plethora of contemplative, mystic and referential works, they stand out as an individualist challenge for the importance of the inner voice.

© Mia Johnson