Monday, October 28, 2013

Carollyne Yardley, Jose Brand and Paul Dowd at AGGV by Philip Willey.

There’s no point in rehashing old arguments about whether comic books are art or not. They are. But there are degrees. There is great art and not so great art. Comics, fantasy, digital art and video games still rate lower, for now at least, on the spectrum than Caravaggio. That said nobody at this point in time is going to deny Frank Frazetta’s amazing painting skills. Or Dave McKean’s contributions to Arkham Asylum. Walt Disney’s work is in the MOMA collection. Jonathan Jones says Disney is a great artist, so consider the matter settled.

Perhaps it makes more sense to define Pop Art, not so much in the Warhol ironic consumerism sense of the word but meaning popular, as in approachable, something that ‘ordinary’ people can relate to and want to hang on their rec room walls. Robert Bateman fits that bill along with the kind of thing one finds in shopping malls.

The three artists in the show at AGGV probably don’t see popularity in quite that way. Their work is a little too offbeat for that. Which may be why they decided to call the show Strangelings. Their work occupies a niche in a new kind of technology based media.

These three artists, Carollyne Yardley, Jose Brand and Paul Dowd have all made professional careers as Art Directors in the game and technology industry. Beyond the strangeness they share an illustrative technique and a liking for meticulous finish. They call themselves Pixel Wizards and the show attempts to weave the art and tech worlds together.


Jose Brand is resident artist at KANO/APPS, a successful local gaming company co-founded by Tim Teh. Jose comes from Terrace B.C. In an interview for KANO/APPS he says… ‘I usually stay away from realism, I don’t do landscapes or anything like that. Style-wise, I feel like I’m all over the place. It really just comes down to what I feel like drawing at that moment.’


Paul Dowd was a lead artist at Zynga, He worked on the famous Farmville. Right now he is searching the universe for another planet rich in experience and energon.
Robots, dinosaurs, zombies, skulls and steam-punk this art-form has its own post-Star Wars iconography and language. It’s hard, if you see art as a continuum, to see how the subject matter relates to art history. It may be a branch line or perhaps digital art has made a clean break and we are in uncharted waters. Technically the work is excellent, the colours are pleasing and all these artists seem to have an instinctive sense of composition. They are eager to demonstrate the traditional skills behind digital imagery.


Carollyne Yardley takes a slightly different tack. She was co-owner and former Creative Director of Star Global Advanced IT Corp. Her ubiquitous squirrels have evolved from surreal personal vehicles to wry comments on humanity to playful references to the contemporary art world. The squirrel stays central but the context is always changing. Recently she has found ways to incorporate artists as varied as Magritte, Murakami and Banksy into her work.

Photoshop is causing quite a few headaches in the art world. Is it a tool or a creative medium in its own right? There is a reluctance to accept it in some quarters but for a generation that has grown up with computers it seems perfectly normal. It may be some time before photoshop gets full accepted but this show should help people to understand what goes on behind the scenes.

There’s no artspeak with this show and no deep existential statements. There may be a lot of underlying complexity but these artists want their work to be accessible. Fine art? That’s not the point. Badass, cool, WTF, you name it, this show is fun and games.

The Massey Gallery
October 2013


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