Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life Is But A Dream

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the word Chimera as:

1 a capitalized :  a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion's head, a  goat's body, and a serpent's tail
   b :  an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts 
2  :  an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially :  an unrealizable dream chimera
        in my brain, troubles me in my prayer — John Donne>
:  an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution 
At least a part of each of these definitions could be applied to the exhibit of the same name now on view at Back to the Fuschia.   I attended the opening of the exhibit on Sunday night and was again impressed by Sarah Legault's curatorial skills.  
Artist and exhibit curator Sarah Legault stands flanked by works she created.  I was not aware until I spoke with Legault at this show that she had also curated the shows at Dollirium Art Doll Gallery (which, sadly, is no more).  If you have been following this blog for a while, you may remember seeing some of the amazing and creepy dolls from those exhibits.

Detail of the doll immediately to the left of Legault in the photo above

In addition to Legault's pieces, the exhibit also featured work by Sean Chappell, Alex Garant, Stu Edwards, F.N Vegas and Julia Castrogiovanni.   
A series of oil paintings by Toronto-based artist Alex Garant lined one wall

Garant's paintings combine a classic portrait technique with a graphic pop art sensibility, and the use of multiple eyes made what would otherwise be a very pretty image into something rather unsettling.

My favourite painting by Garant is the one above, titled "The Secret", which looks like the woman is standing behind one of those carnival figures that have the faces cut out so you can put yours in its place.  
Julia Castrogiovanni was nice enough to humour me when I asked if she would crouch down to pose with the ceramic teapot and cups she made, which were displayed in an old Gramophone cabinet.  The tea pot is the lounging female figure on the right.

"Father of Lies" by Toronto artist Stu Edwards, who is the founder of The Canadian Alternative Arts Collective
I had the pleasure of meeting, and having a lengthy chat with, Cambridge artist Sean Chappell, and his wife, author Kit Daven.  They are definitely one of the coolest couples I've ever met.  Sean's work, which incorporates the surreal, the fantastic, and the downright disturbing, has a dark sense of humour evidenced in the titles of the pieces such as "I Hate It When My Eyes Blow Out".  Chappell has a self-declared obsession with pumpkins, and the image appears in several of his paintings.
"Reflection of My Own Sweet Self" by Sean Chappell
 Chapell collaborated with his wife for the cover of her most recent book, The Forgotten Gemstone.  Doesn't his illustration make you curious about the story inside?

It was a relatively small turnout for the opening, and everyone seemed to know each other so it was a pretty relaxed group.  There were some laughs and general silliness; Jeremy Hobbs, who had photographs on display in the previous exhibit, had been given a portrait that was painted by a friend and it was agreed that it was pretty close to life-size (and yes, his eyes really are that large).

The guy on the right seems unaware he is on the receiving end of an over-the-shoulder glance from a beautiful woman

 Clockwise from left:  "Dead Lorina", "Auto Erotica", and "Arachno" - all by Fn Vegas

I was extremely taken with the work by FnVegas.  Vegas transfers digitally created images onto cork, which gives the works an interesting texture (not that I touched one, but I wanted to).  Vegas has created a Tarot deck using her images, which are perfectly suited to the medium.  The women appear to be from a different time which adds a mystical, dream-like quality to the images.   I purchased unframed 8 x 10 prints of  "Dead Lorina" and "Auto Erotica", and it was difficult to choose just two - I wanted them all! 

The exhibit runs until August 10th.  You can find the address of the gallery and their hours here.


  1. disturbing and beautiful art, everything and everybody looks interesting and cool!
    besos & arte

  2. Yes, I like those final images too, how interesting to put them on cork.
    The gallery sounds really cool, and as usual, you capture the art, the spirit of the occasion, and get to chat to everyone, Shelley! xxx

  3. Haha - we caught you in the reflection there. I like small turnouts because you get a chance to mingle and meet everyone, although I hope for the artists' sakes that the venue will be bursting with visitors attracted by this great review. The pieces are intriguing and often creepy, although my favourite photo is the last one of the man turning away from the picture lady's attentions.

  4. What a great exhibit! I find I cannot look at the portraits with the double eyes without instantly feeling motion sick. I love the creepy doll best! I think I need to start a creepy doll collection.

  5. I'm looking at this on my shattered phone so I know much is escaping me!! I'm happy you're surrounded by art and creativity. I gravitated to the image of the woman in a you pointed out, we could all put our faces in
    there like a cut out. Love you Shelley. Xxoo

  6. I like the shot of the couple with your reflection. Amazing works, all of them.

  7. This looks very cool. Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Those dolls! I want! I remember last time you showed these! What a killer bunch of art and the people who make it. I also dog that wicked pumpkin and bird painting. Wish we were weekend buddies, I'd go to all of these with you!

  9. I love Alex Garant's work the most, just captivating. x

  10. I can understand why you purchased the art above. Not only are the pieces beautiful, but the names are very creative. You write the best reviews. They always make me want to see the exhibit, which is a very special skill.

  11. I especially like Garants work, but there is a whole LOT of talent here!
    Not to mention the rather foxy Sarah!

  12. Awesome art. The Alex Garant paintings are supreme.