Balancing Act: the inaugural exhibition at Studio Sixty Six
Ottawa’s innovative contemporary art gallery Studio Sixty Six opened its new location on Bank Street in the Glebe on April 13. A fresh and beguiling exhibition, Balancing Act features the Ottawa’s very own painter and illustrator Yvonne Wiegers and the British Columbia-based and internationally acclaimed photographer Troy Moth. The pairing of these two artists is a spark of genius by gallery director Carrie Colton, not only because of the contrasting palettes with which these two artists exercise their creativity, but by the performativity that brings forth their interconnectivity.
Troy Moth dismantles any prior notion you might have about human distinctiveness and dominance through anything resembling consciousness, emotions or transcendence. He gives you animals, trees and people with the same psychological depth as a Rembrandt painting portraits. He masterfully gives us the fragile beauty of nature and invites us to interact.
The mighty bear showing suspicion, and you are not sure whether he is getting ready to charge or retreat. Isn’t fear the base of all violence? Those that attack, aren’t they doing it out of angst? The war horse with the circle of life drawn around his eyes full of kindness rather than malice, being led into battle. The ever striking wolf looks on with distrust, and how are you to read that? These animals hold us in their gaze.
Here is why Troy works like a master, because the minute you are ready to blame all of humanity, he gives you the insubstantiality of humanity. The humanity that is deeply flawed. The humanity that is struggling to move on with so much baggage. The humanity that is caught between the fear of death and the hope for survival. The humanity that sees skulls every time it closes its eyes and cannot help self-sabotaging. It is all there in black and white.
And the dance continues in colour with the organic creations of Yvonne Wiegers. She gives us huge paintings of very small structures. You move towards them enchanted, and as you get closer new dimensions are revealed with new biological systems giving birth to new organizations of particles, cells and corpuscles. There is depth, as well as textures, to these paintings, and one is never too far away from the intertwining stems of arabesque designs that enchanted pioneers like William Morris.
Yvonne Wiegers is a physical painter. She is interested in the action of painting, giving us structures. Forms that are universal, belonging to this reality. They are not outside, nor alien to us. We recognise these forms, and we connect with them. How we see them depend on the philosophical and moral stance we have adopted on the natural world. Do we find beauty in what is truly part of us, or do we seek to destroy it out of fear?
It is easy to see that nature and love for life interest these two contemporary artists. There is evidence that they are concerned, and we should be too. Whether we like it or not we have become consequential to the survival of life on this planet, and we have arrived at this point by our shortcomings and mistakes. These two artists are holding a mirror, asking us to amend and make corrections, becoming a force for good rather than death and destruction.
Balancing Act will be at Studio Sixty Six, 858 Bank Street, unit 101, until May 12th. Opening hours are between 11:30am-5:30pm, Tuesday through Saturday.