Monday, March 6, 2017

Sherry Tompalski - March 2017 - Artist of the Month



Artist Statement
I have been blessed with two parallel careers over the past 25 years: psychiatry and
art. While they are intrinsically different fields, the work of each has informed the
other.

I assessed and treated adolescents, adults, couples, and families, and also worked for
the military treating soldiers. Throughout, I maintained my art practice working on
projects often with my husband, and invariably exploring visually, psychological
concepts, questions and understanding.

I experienced my art and my art career as vitalizing my work with patients, while my
psychiatric career underlined the importance of people feeling understood and
understandable. Consequently, in my art I often wanted to “put myself in another s'
shoes”, maintaining that the individual's world or point of view is worth looking at and
paying attention to.

The Boxers were inspired by the Female Afghan Boxing Club in Kabul who train in
the basement of the Kabul stadium where the Taliban used to publicly execute women
accused of adultery. Sadaf Rahimi, a female boxer from Afghanistan who made history
by being the first Afghan female boxer to be invited to the Olympics recounts, “In
Afghanistan, there is so much violence and prejudice towards women. Because of
that, when I come here and box, I feel freedom. Here we are all girls, and we talk with
each other and practice. Here is freedom for me and for every girl.”

This work began as large graphite drawings that were torn up and reassembled with
fragments of musical score, portraying the process of coming undone, reforming and
coming together. The Boxers incorporate a fragmented, difficult history which
hopefully with healing and strength becomes music.

The Talking Portrait Series (50 in total) were developed from live sittings of refugees
who were also artists themselves. Their comments made while sitting, as well as
time-lapse photography of the developing portraits are presented in video form with
the final portraits and have been exhibited nationally and internationally.

I do not believe we give people a voice, anymore than we can empower people.
However, when we listen in an authentic way people develop a voice and experience
themselves as more effective.

Ultimately, I hope my work helps to contribute to an environment that embodies trust
wherein people can feel their needs are legitimate and experience themselves and the
world as a safer place to live in.

I thank the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Ottawa for their
financial support of these projects.
Sherry Tompalski

http://gagegallery.weebly.com/sherry-tompalski-profile.html



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sherry Tompalski and Arden Rose at Gage Gallery Arts Collective

Tompalski's Boxers were inspired by the Female Afghan Boxing Club in Kabul

Tompalski's new work is based on and inspired by pictures of the Afghan women who train in the basement of the Kabul stadium where the Taliban used to publicly execute women accused of adultery. Sadaf Rahimi, a female boxer from Afghanistan who made history by being the first Afghan female boxer to be invited to the Olympics recounts, “In Afghanistan, there is so much violence and prejudice towards women. Because of that, when I come here and box, I feel freedom. Here we are all girls, and we talk with each other and practice. Here is freedom for me and for every girl.”

Artist Sherry Tompalski's new work at the Gage Gallery opens on Feb 23, (5-8pm) featuring her Female Boxers."This work began as large graphite drawings that are torn up and reassembled with fragments of musical score, portraying the process of coming undone, reforming and coming together. The Boxers incorporate a fragmented, difficult history which hopefully with healing and strength becomes music." 

Arden Rose on Boxers and Beauties

I create art to express myself without words. Painting provides me with joy, with calm, and with a reflective state. I feel whole when I’m making art.

Generally, my inspiration is drawn from colour combinations in nature, and in life! In this series I have particularly drawn inspiration from nature and Modigliani’s long-necked beauties.

Colour, beauty, texture, and form motivate me. Together, they create a feast for the eye. I’m not trying to change the world or create any sort of philosophical or ideological statement - I’m just painting what I believe is beautiful.

You may ask what beauty is. Beauty is a label we attach to different sorts of experiences based on a combination of cultural and personal preferences. It’s different to everyone and takes many forms.  We all have vastly different perceptions. It can be sexual in nature or nurturing. Think lover or mother. It can be skin deep or a part of the soul.

In my current work of portraits and nudes I’m attempting to depict the fusion of the female form with the beauty inherent in nature. I’ve added “nature” in the form of flora and fauna as a symbol of feminine unification with nature.
This series is painted on both canvas and wooden cradle board using acrylics. I added collage, ink and mediums for colour and texture. I love using a palette knife to create big smooth swatches of richness or to scrape down to reveal layers of colour.

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”  ― Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Neil McClelland at Deluge Contemporary Art. Feb 3rd – Mar 4th. 2017 by Philip Willey




Neil McClelland is originally from Quebec and he graduated with an MFA from Victoria University where he now teaches sessionally. He also teaches at the Vancouver Island School of Art. 

I first saw his paintings at Open space in a show called ‘Realities, Follies’ curated by Lynda Gammon and Wendy Welch and remember being impressed. In that show McClelland took the opportunity to explore the historical relationship of Cezanne’s bathers to the kind of snapshots people like to take on beaches. There was nothing irreverent about the paintings but it was obvious that Cezanne was getting updated. 



A similar attitude towards history was evident in a series of paintings shown at Vernon Gallery in 2014. In this show McClelland dealt with the way we perceive art works in a gallery setting “….exploring connections and disconnections between the art historical tradition and contemporary, digitally-mediated visual culture”. ‘Approaching Rembrandt’ seems to encapsulate his intentions i.e. it’s not the actual painting that is central but the approach. In conversation he talks a lot about perception…..or how the way we see works of art defines who we are.


Being confronted by McClelland’s work in his Fisgard Street studio I was struck by the unreality. There’s an elusive strangeness that made me think of Peter Doig. The work is figurative but other-worldly. It’s a distortion of reality but not without an underlying meaning, familiar but remote.  Like Doig, McClelland takes a painterly approach. Take ‘The Ancient Sickness of Dreams’ for instance, a tropical setting clearly but where? For some reason it reminds me of a scene from Paul Theroux’s ‘Mosquito Coast’. ‘In the West the Sky Contracted’ shows a burning building, horses, a truck, that evoke ‘Black Beauty’ by Anna Sewell.




These are personal memories of course. Our minds are full of them waiting to be triggered. In fact the horses are a truckload of statues the artist saw during the fire in Edmonton. He uses photographs but photographic reality is superseded by the painting process. But what to make of ‘The Wild State of Freedom’ where we see some sort of oneiric procession, suited figures bearing a panoply around an arena that could be BC Place, ….  what does it mean? Or ‘The Beneficent Net’ with semi-nude people surrounding some kind of fishing net? What strange catch have they made? ‘Everything is Being Perfected’ shows humans interacting with nature, young men amusing themselves with turtles (though the turtles don’t seem to be having much fun).These are symbols beneath which we sense, but can’t quite pinpoint, some universal absolutes. 








There is a consistency to these paintings. They are intriguing precisely because they aren’t explicit and the political references aren’t overstated. Aesthetics and dialectics are finely balanced. In conversation McClelland talks about Utopia and Dystopia, philosophical issues that lie beneath our everyday concerns, as being inherently political. He sees the act of imagining futures as a political act. The paintings engage with the problems of our times and our hopes for the future but in a subtle way. Something is wrong in paradise. There’s a rift between culture and nature. An ominous crack in the earth is forming next to what appears to be a tranquil painting of a swimming pool.


It’s the possibility of human perfectibility that interests him he says, optimism and pessimism being two sides of the same coin, which prompts me to ask if he is optimistic. Well he isn’t gloomy he says though the omens aren’t great. Global warming, pollution, competition for resources, super-power rivalry, a general feeling of malaise. These are anxious times and we certainly have a way to go before we reach Utopia. Dystopia is much more likely. Nevertheless there is always the possibility of new beginnings.


Time, existence, human survival, these are major themes and most of the works are correspondingly large in scale. There’s nothing timid about them. These aren’t paintings that were made for quick sale. McClelland is aiming higher than that. But the paintings at Deluge aren’t just physically large they are large in scope. Perhaps even museum caliber. It would be interesting to see how they measure up to broader exposure. Neil McClelland is energetic and ambitious so hopefully one day we will find out.