Francine Gravel

Harrison Art Galleries, Vancouver
October 22 to November 3

On a Moonlight Evening (1996),
oil on canvas

FRANCINE GRAVEL is a Canadian painter and printmaker who has become well-known internationally over the past decade, particularly for her images of musicians. Theatre music, dance, the circus and the carnival have been recurrent and immediately recognizable signature themes in both her paintings and prints.

Gravel creates fantasy narratives around pensive, simplified figures in symbolic, dream-like worlds. Her work is particularly reminiscent of the styles of Chagall, Modiglinani and Picasso. With their archetypal themes and figures, the parables imply a tension between austerity and bleakness on one hand, and hope and transcendence on the other. Often moody and meditative, at the same time they intend to "exorcise" the ugliness of reality by paying tribute to illusory sensations of light and form.

Viewers will appreciate Gravel's recurrent surface treatments of gold metallic paint, her gentle modelling and jewel-like Renaissance colours. The ever-tilted oval faces with eyes closed are peaceful and frequently playful. She often employs unusual points of view and distorted scale to establish relationships between two or more worlds.

© Mia Johnson