Wednesday 24 February 2016

Million Dollar Pink at N.A.C.

Million Dollar Pink is the current show, February 17 to 27 at the Niagara Artists' Centre.  It is a juried show put on by sixteen students from the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University and includes digital/analog photography, installation, painting, and video.  There is a rumour going around that the neon pink colouring a stairwell in their building was selected by Marilyn Walker herself -- hence the title of the show -- but Steve Remus assures me that it was actually selected by the architect.  At the end of the show, prizes will be awarded.

I feel I can empathise with this show since so much of it is poetic, verging on fantasy and definitely not to be taken literally.  The most literal paintings are a portrait of Frida Kahlo by Danielle Ruiz and a series of twenty self-portraits by Alex Chorny, but they are not entirely literal because the portrait of Frida is rugged and abrasive, hardly recognizable, and some of the self portraits by Chorny are fragmentary or else totally abstract.

Some of paintings are completely fantastic, such as the one of Goliath taking Manhattan by Kerryann Murphy or the picture of an upside down deer in a dark basement, disconcertingly titled "Where the river used to flow" (just in case you might take it literally) by Kaia Toop.

Also completely fantastic is the male nude with the hand turning into a fish biting his penis by Fraser Brown.  In the same "X-rated corner" (Steve Remus' term) is a series of photographs by Lauren Mucciarone of a man and woman in bed, but they are so chaste, tender and poetic that it takes away from their literalness.

On another wall is a painting in a similar vein of a naked woman cuddling a chimpanzee by Lu Liu but again this is so tender and poetic that it is not disturbing.  An abstract, a mixture of painting and collage, with a lot of flowers and circles in tender shades of red, yellow, and green with a face appearing between them, "Untitled" by Jessica Wright, is also very poetic.

Finally, I should mention an installation of what looks like dust bunnies, is rather a sardonic comment on the way words get scattered and thrown away, by an unidentified artist.  It made me think of Hamlet's reply when he was asked what he was reading: "Words, words, words."

Of course these are not all the items in the show, but these are the ones that made the greatest impression on me.

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