Monday, October 16, 2006

Greg Bennett at the Leyton Gallery

What does Ferris Ball Blues: A Secular Idol Runs Amok, mean?

I went to see Greg Bennett's latest offering recently at the Leyton Gallery, and while I for the most part enjoyed many of the paintings in the show, I found myself wondering how in the world the above title related to the canvases I saw. Colour me baffled.

Bennett, who recently returned to St. John's after a two year stint in Toronto, is well known for his luscious and labourious oil paintings, one of which, presented in this show, that he's worked on for several years.

What struck me most about these works was Bennett's pre-occupation with double images, mirror effects and numerous, fragmented planes within each canvas. The dual skeletons of Davy Jones' Locker leer at each other from opposite sides of one canvas, while two identical Paliminos stare out at the viewer from another painting. In one image, set in some urban art supply store, the scene is split into many confusing planes that compete for the viewer's attention, recalling, for me, at least, some of Manet's early paintings set in the the decidedly moderne bustle of 19th Century Paris. But it is less the alienation or obliteration of the self by the cityscape that these paintings address, and more an exploration of the shcism between the exterior and interior worlds that Bennett seems concerned with here. Much of the imagery for this work came from Bennett's travels, and I kept wondering if these paintings, as documents of an actual, external journey, mirrored an internal journey Bennet had undertaken while away from Newfoundland.

Either way, the show is worth checking out for the several well crafted paintings being shown, even if the title of the exhibition still throws you for a loop.

6 Comments:

Blogger Steve Topping said...

Greg is burdened with the unfourtunate luxury of being the first review in half a year. Thanks Greg!

Sure looks like an ambitious show for the images on Layton Gallery's site. Looks like Mr Bennett is really devoloping his own vernacular with this show.

2:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would say about this show that i'm confused about the painted aspect of some. Henri Cartier-Bresson was a genious for capturing moments in time with a lens which is very challenging. Labouring for hours, days, weeks, months
over a moment in time only leaves me questioning why this particular moment is important? The title is a little confusing as well but that doesn't bother me, i usually expect that much. I might rather see the many photographs that capture this theme rather than the false sense of construction with the paintings..

To be not completely negative, i see the paintings as ambitious in the fact that what is being represented with a brush and paint is challenging. Manet was one for attempting to showcase all of his technical skills in a single painting. "Bar at the Foiles-Bergere"
is a prime example. It is extremely poetic and that is the subject i notice first - the human element. I am not confronted with this in gregs paintings and notice these things in reverse. I first see the technical exercise and then try to search for the subject matter...

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the show when it opened, and thought that for me what was missing was a sense of overall unity within the paintings shown - although as Craig mentioned in his review, the doubling is carried through a lot of pieces, there's some that just seem to be there randomly...my favorites were actually the two tiny collage pieces by the door, they seemed more spontaneous than a lot of the work. I also really liked the double horse painting - there was something quite ominous about it. Overall, however, I found that a lot of the work just didn't grab me, and that the more complicated the mirroring and doubling of images, the less I was intrigued.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

er- am i wrong or was this is show with louise sutton as well?

11:05 PM  
Anonymous joseph b'ys said...

yup. louise sutton was there too. it's a shame that her work was stuck in the back. her large pieces would look so much better with some natural light. they also could have benefitted from a bit of wall. it's a sin that she got stuck back there in the corner .makes it feel like she was just filler for whatever walls greg didn't have work for. a shame too as i really dig her work. did i say shame twice? shame shame.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous chubby said...

i think part of the problem is that bennet doesn't know what his paintings are really about. there kind of like beatnik paintings . lots of free association and so on.

1:21 PM  

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