Big, bold, and beautiful are the first words these paintings evoke in me. Confident compositions in black and white and colour. Big, bold, beautiful, and red. The red dominates; it jumps out at me. From Ella's red lips. From the largest panel, at least four feet square, in all shades of red with black outlines--Escalation. Where all colours flow into one red dot--Red Focus. Studies in black and white with red accents--Miroesque. Fantasyland. A warped lidded jar on a black field, red and gold and purple, with eyes, evoking primitive pottery, Humpty-Dumpty, and Picasso--Face First. I can see the artist playing. Challenging himself with the styles of twentieth-century masters--Miro, Picasso, Mondrian, Braque--with whimsical twists.
A closer look reveals the presence of other colours in the show. A navy blue and white composition evoking Calgary weather--White Invasion. A beautiful sky-blue field with black, white, and green notes--The Blues. Blue and Red Dance. Red Slash. And a lot of gold. Bottles. Journey III. Girl with Dog is a forest of brown, green, and gold, a girl's face, an elusive dog. Journey II is a dream, a mauve pastel drip, with a Mondrian-ish corner. Like the background in the Ella portrait, the saxophone is yellow in Tribute to John Handy. I remember Gary's giant pup of a dog named Mingus. Names, like titles, are clues.
Very twentieth century. Very ''modern art" with a post-modern sensibility that rejects the myth of progress and the belief that art can improve things, that it can make a positive contribution. These paintings are an homage both to one man's life and to life in the last half of the twentieth century. They celebrate the artist's passions--jazz music, art, places of forest and snow. In colour and composition and movement, in a variety of applications of oil to linen and canvas, they communicate emotions and ideas. Red Slash, like a wound; red dot like a bullet hole. Back at the huge black and scarlet square, its shapes morph into deltas, islands, peninsulas, its colour devolving from blood red to agent orange--Escalation.
Eclectic Passion hangs in the Back Room of the Hope Arts Gallery, Hope, British Columbia, for the month of February, 2009.