The newest exhibit at the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum has been pieced together by a former curator at the EAGM.
Alex King, who worked at the EAGM from 2013 to 2015, curated Plastic Rhymes, which is on display in Gallery No. 1 and features the efforts of six artists from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Each of the artists takes a look at paintings and how the artistic discipline has remained relevant in the ever-changing art world.
King was at the EAGM on Jan. 20 to speak at a reception, and to explain the works of each of the six artists: Ufuk Gueray, Keeley Haftner, Laura Payne, Adrian Stimson, David Stonhouse and Robert Tait.
“I’ve done studio visits with most of them, and I know two of them, Ufuk Gueray … and Rob Tait, they’re from Winnipeg and I used to live in Winnipeg, so I know them from there,” said King.
Their contributions to Plastic Rhymes are either paintings or studies of the impact and history of paintings. Even the building blocks of paintings are re-evaluated to critical effect, and so King believes the artists are “playing around” with the canvas, paint, wood, paint brush and other materials.
King said she has noticed a keen interest in painting in Saskatchewan ever since she arrived in Estevan. She has also seen how artists enjoy talking about paintings.
“I wanted to learn about painting and I wanted to learn more about the history of that medium in this province,” said King.
She believes the presence of Regina Five – a group of Saskatchewan-based artists who produced avant-garde paintings in the 1950s and 1960s – not only helped to put Saskatchewan on the artistic map, but their efforts continue to influence Saskatchewan artists today.
While some have questioned if painting is dead, particularly after the advent of photography, and that it can’t be avant-garde or innovative, King believes that painting is still alive and well, which she thinks is great.
“Even in art schools today, students aren’t always encouraged to paint, and they’re encouraged to experiment with new media, and other types of media,” said King. “Painting has this anxiety that’s very tied to its medium about being kind of staid, not very interesting and the domain of men historically.”
The name of the exhibit is drawn from a quote by the famed artist Pablo Picaso, who said, “Painting is poetry, written in plastic rhymes.” King believes Picaso was talking about a system of patterning within works to create cohesion.
She compared it to talking about the geometry of a window frame or a painting frame, and the shapes that echo throughout paintings, and the space that surrounds paintings.
King is now the curator of the president’s arts collection at the University of Regina, a job she has held for nearly two years. She is working with a vast collection, which includes some works from the Regina Five.
“I’m involved with curating the collection on campus and taking care of it, and involved with acquiring new work as well, so it’s fun work,” said King.
Plastic Rhymes will remain at the EAGM until Feb. 24.