Monday, 15 June 2015

Bill Rose at the Arts and Culture Centre

Ecce Homo (Wm. S. Burroughs) 72" x 48"
oil on canvas

Pop-up exhibitions fascinate me.  I am always interested in alternatives, options.  To me they are the basis for creativity.  I know deep down in my gut that there is always more than one way to do things.  Bill Rose is a splendid example.

I have watched his art for years with rapt attention.  Rose will always be associated with the grid and the grid is the basis for a great deal in our society.  It is a primary tool for organization be it graph paper, architecture or our thoughts.  And Bill Rose is a very thoughtful man.

Last Friday I attended his pop up exhibition at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John's.  It was delicious irony to see his art there at the abandoned site of our provincial art gallery.  What made this particular showing interesting was the mix of Bill Rose art.  Some of it was old, some it was new and so it gave a new twist, a refreshing perspective on the man's art.
Gotta love those big juicy roses.

Bill Rose is a saucy fellow.  I have always enjoyed the role of humor in his work.  He takes pot shots at so much:  politics, war, economy, the role of landscape in Newfoundland art.  It is gallows humor.  Let's laugh at this painful topic so we can get a little closer to it.

If I close my eyes and try and remember what I saw a few days back, this is what I see in my mind's eye.  A black velvet painting of a boy on a potty with text stenciled over it with a reference to Stephen Harper.  A gorgeous painting of king-sized roses that has been sliced up to fit into slide holders, i.e. two-inch squares.  The plastic gave it a voluptuous quality that I never expected.  I was expecting a barrier not an invitation.

Neither was I prepared for the new work.  I know Bill Rose to be an exceedingly careful painter, capable of infinite detail and small work but one who chooses to work on the large scale.  He can do big work without it looking inflated.  And that's saying something. 

So, instead of large work with a lot of control I discover big work with a whole lot of confidence and a new style.  It is looser, more relaxed and painterly.  This is exciting.  He is still playing with my mind but in a new way.  He is banking on what is in my memory.  Toying with my mind's eye.   And I like it.  A lot.
Bill on a more political note.  Text and image marry so well in his art.

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