Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ferguson's Flabbergasting Farewell to Frottage @ Wynick/Tuck this Thurs

So I dropped by Wynick/Tuck gallery on the weekend and was stunned to see that the new paintings they have lined up for Gerry Ferguson's latest show are REPRESENTATIONAL, PICTORIAL, BLACK AND WHITE LANDSCAPES.

Okay, so maybe putting this in all-caps is a bit of an overreaction, but fact is that it's been over a decade since anyone has seen new works like this from the CanArt icon. For years Ferguson's been known as the grand king of artistic frottage north of the 49th. (A quick note: I think it's okay to smirk at this appelation--dour as the man can often be, even he has to realize the resonance of this chosen "technique" on so many creatively dirty minds.) Everything from lobster shells to looped hose to garbage can openings to drain covers (as in the image above) were painted by GF simply by draping a bare canvas on top of said object and rubbing with a roller of black paint.

And now... this. Landscapes. Created with a brush on a presumably upright canvas. What gives on this seemingly neocon reversal? The gallery attendant informed me that Ferguson had broken his left hand earlier this year, and could only use his right, which made frottage painting difficult. Whatever the reason for the shift, the new work is interesting to see in light of Ferguson's hardboiled reputation. It's also strangely satisfying, given the extent to which Ferguson is known for haranguing his NSCAD students into mastery of traditional landscape techniques before they soldier on into more experimental territory. (In fact, one of Ferguson's own proteges, Jonathan Johnson, has made his name in this very tradition.) Decide for yourself whether Ferguson's still got his own descriptive chops when his new work officially opens January 15 at Wynick Tuck in Toronto and January 16 at Gallery Page & Strange in Halifax.

Image of Gerry Ferguson's 27 Drain Covers, 2006 from Wynick Tuck Gallery

No comments: