Sunday, November 27, 2005

Clement Curtis' Virgin Territory at RCA Gallery

Clement Curtis:

Clement Curtis is a fairly well established painter (amongst other things) in St. John's whose latest offering at RCA Gallery at the LSPU Hall is a welcome departure from his usual bloody and dismembered- female bodies. Virgin Territory is a series of landscape oil paintings on canvas of various sizes, apparently drawn from the artist's Wordsworthian wanderings in the wilderness of Newfoundland.

While it may indeed be virgin territory for Curtis, the viewer will very easily fit this work into the long canon of traditional Newfoundland landscape painting; a tradition which embodies a very palpable love for the harsh and rugged beauty of the island, supposedly a metaphor for the harsh and rugged beauty of Newfoundlanders themselves.

It's sure laid on thickly. Curtis' canvases are built up with layer upon layer of paint and his technical proficiency is evident in the creation of compositions which immediately draw the viewer in. But, as luscious as these paintings are, all they do is kind of sit on their asses in the gallery space. There are certain tricks a painter learns at a very early stage of their development which allows them to construct pictures that are pretty to look at. Curtis seems to have that down, but there doesn't look like there's much else going on. I mean, it looks like these paintings were made to just sell, baby. I like my art a little more complicated than that.

I always thought a younger generation of artists had it as their duty to question the assumptions under which the previous generation worked, but that sure ain't happening here. These are pure Gerald Squires hand-me-downs, with, oddly, in one piece, some Bill Rose thrown in. I almost want Curtis to go back to the cut-up girl thing, at least no one else in town was doing that.

RCA Gallery and Website:

I posted the above link to RCA Visual out of a sense of duty, but it's almost not worth the effort. They're not in the habit of posting images of current exhibitions, or updating the site itself. It's a drag. So, the only way to see this work is if you're in St. John's. Sorry.

Also, the LSPU Hall has to change the way it thinks about its gallery space. Out of the four times I went to check out Curtis' show, twice the gallery was filled with chairs for some presentation, and once, unbelievably, a crowd of people were having a full-blown buffet style luncheon in there. What the fuck!

Friday, November 11, 2005


Hello everyone and welcome to Art In Newfoundland. I've been wanting to have a blog about the St. John's arts community for quite some time and am glad I've finally gotten my act together enough to do so. I'm not, of course, limiting this sucker to St. John's visual art, the community just isn't big enough for that, but will be covering a number of topics pertaining to creative endeavor from everywhere with an emphasis on Atlantic Canada.

Because the community is so tiny in St. John's, I've noticed in my two years here that not everyone involved feels comfortable enough to express their true opinions about gallery shows, performances, books, screenings etc., due to fear of personal or professional retribution from those being critiqued. So here's your chance to engage in an actual dialogue, to voice your opinions and/or reservations about what's happening here anonymously.

The first post will be up in a couple of days, as it will take me some time to wrap my head around maintaining this blog. I'm pretty new to this sort of thing.

Thanks, and feel free to introduce yourselves.