A new exhibition at Cape Breton University Art Gallery features some of the most successful realist painters working in Nova Scotia today. Capture 2014: Nova Scotian Realism comprises works by 25 Nova Scotia painters, including two from Cape Breton, whose work can be categorized under the broad heading of realism. Realist painting – which may also be referred to as naturalism or representational painting –seeks to accurately represent the world. As such, the works in the exhibition are the result of impressive technical virtuosity.
The exhibition’s curators Tom Smart and Peter Dykhuis set out to survey the breadth of realist painters at work across the province at this particular moment. Smart toured the province and conducted 43 studio visits in the summer of 2013 to identify artists who would represent the wide range of artist working in the realist vein. Two artists from Cape Breton are represented in the exhibition, Onni Nordman and Christopher Gorey.
In the process of selecting the artists and paintings, the curators identified a number of prevalent, unifying themes that shape the exhibition. These include paintings that are executed en plein air or other site specific activity, paintings that “capture” uncanny and magical atmospheres, landscape and creatures, paintings that quote historical process and styles (such as Dutch still life painting) and other, more expressive or socially or politically motivated forms of realism.
The exhibition was initiated by the Professional Living Artists of Nova Scotia, a group of artists who came together because of stylistic commonalities and shared concerns about the underrepresentation of realist painting in public art galleries. Despite their concerns about realist painting’s standing with critics, curators and galleries, the style remains popular amongst audiences.
When the exhibition was originally presented at Dalhousie Art Gallery it broke decades of attendance records, and CBU Art Gallery Director Laura Schneider anticipates that the same will be true in Cape Breton, “I know that this exhibition will have very broad appeal with our audience,” says Schneider. “I think that exhibitions like this are an important way of taking stock of what is happening in our region at any given moment, and Capture provides us with a concrete means to open up the conversation about realism’s relevance today.”
The artists in the exhibition are: Alan Bateman, Douglas Boutilier, Malcolm Callaway, Anthony Clementi, Richard Davis, Tom Forrestall, Peter di Gesu, Susan Gibson, Christopher Gorey, Peter Gough, Adam Gunn, Paul Hannon, Ed Huner, Derrick Dale Johnson, Joy Snihur Wyatt Laking, Gord MacDonald, Shelley Mitchell, Onni Nordman, Jaye Ouellette, Susan Paterson, Mary Reardon, Steven Rhude, Anna Syperek, Tom Ward, and Ambera Wellmann.
An opening reception for the exhibition takes place on Saturday November 15 from 6-8pm. Artists will be in attendance and the reception will include an informal tour through the exhibition with curator Peter Dkyhuis. Everyone is welcome and admission is always free.