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