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Photos by Colin Noden.

Exhibition: The Old Train Station at the Orange Art Gallery

By Colin Noden on November 13, 2017

Train buff? Historical Ottawa fan? Umm… art investor?

The Orange Art Gallery is going to Bhat for you.

OK I couldn’t help it. And now that the Bhat pun is done, I’ll address the other points. The Orange Art Gallery is hosting an exhibition entitled The Old Train Station which is appropriate as the gallery is in a historical train building. The central pieces are various perspectives of the old Ottawa train station when it was located right downtown. The exhibition was created by Bhat Boy, a local artist and instructor with a world-wide client base.

The art has an authenticity your dad would approve of, but also a little wink in each piece. The wink might be in the title, the characters in the painting, or even the buildings themselves. Bhat Boy’s trademark detailing of icons tricks the mind into accepting dimension changes and subject additions.

Stories are alive in the acrylic. I found myself playing Where’s Waldo after a while as my subconscious would begin nagging me that something’s not quite right. I could imagine gazing up while reading a book and noticing another new feature reveal itself. Much more fun than a photograph.

“I love dirt,” I heard Bhat say. So, I began looking for the dirt. But what I found was light. Oh sure, the dirt was there, in the billowing soot and smudgy buildings, but I began to suspect that Bhat’s love of dirt was in its use as a foil to the light.

“Just look at how those tracks shine!” said the guy beside me. His wife brought him. He liked mechanical stuff. I looked, and sure enough, they did shine; in just the right place and just the right amount. There was no obvious light source in the painting, but the subtlety of direction was consistent. And the cold overcast wintery feel of the light came through as well.

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Once I was attuned to this detailed expression of light, I began to look at the other works in the exhibit. Its expression ranged from the garish flames of the Parliament’s Centre Block building fire reflecting off nearby buildings, to the smoky shadow of a nun. Looking for these details was a fun exercise.

So too was hunting for the “artistic licence” details. Things in the paintings that were put in because they really deserved to be there, and not because they were there in real life. A building up the street deserved to be in the painting, and so it was. Dimensions changed on items to draw the eye to focal points. An odd character appears in a corner. All the little things that engage the eye, and nudge the brain. The wink.

The opening night of The Old Train Station exhibit was a fun experience which matched the art and its creator. Bhat Boy was in full flight in the crowded exhibition room, entertaining and explaining to each little group. Keeping the energy high. But every now and then there was a stillness in his look. The steel of a professional. No wink there my friend.

The Old Train Station exhibition is being shown at the Orange Street Gallery (290 City Centre Avenue) from November 2-18, 2017.  Why not invite your Dad? A brewery and a bakery are right behind the building.