Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Kathy Browning and Susan Jamieson at RCA

I was at the opening of this show back in January and have been conflicted about what, if anything, I should write about the experience since.

I was tempted, and had even decided, that I'd just ignore the whole thing and hope it would go away (which almost worked, as this show comes down on February 25th), but something kept gnawing at me. It was this: if I were willing to just let it go, to ignore the show, how was I, as self-appointed critic and visual arts supporter, any different than the numerous artists in Newfoundland whose perceived slights and grievances cause them to trash-talk one another at the drop of a hat?

So, fuck it, here goes:

The work in Shift is simply not of professional calibre.

Jamieson's paintings are pseudo-Impressionist/pseudo-Expressionist renderings of stormy seas, big waves, and so on, that we've all seen a million times already, with the difference being they aren't very well done. They date from 1979 all the way up to 2007, and there doesn't really appear to be much progression or change in terms of her practice, such as it is. For what it's worth, I liked the oldest one the most of any of them.

Browning, it seems, has taken a crack at the digital image game, presenting a series of photos of icebergs emblazoned with other images of trees, rock faces and other facets of the landscape not usually found on the surface of icebergs. If the best art is read in terms of a poetic fusion of form and content, then this work might be seen as a commentary on how the digital age has resulted in a confusion between what's an iceberg and what's a line of trees. Or something.

The images also don't do well in terms of their size, as they look as though they were printed on a home computer, and don't stray much beyond the 81/2" by 11" paper size.

Anyway, I guess we can always hope that Shift lives up to its name, and marks the beginning of a sea-change in what RCAV has decided to show. Time will tell.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, you are an asshole.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asshole or not - he speaks the truth about this one. I was really disappointed in this show.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous chubby said...

Browning's images do vary a bit in size, cfp. There's a couple bigger ones in there.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This exhibition is no doubt a joke.
It has been a very long time since i've seen a solid exhibition at RCA
But, I heard that RCA has a great season programmed for 2008 including CONTEMPORARY artists from on and off the island.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Jennifer B. said...

I have to disagree with the "asshole" comment, since Craig has backed up his criticisms. He hasn't just dumped on the work for no reason, like you have on CFP.

Anyway, I'm gonna agree with Craig's review here -- I was very surprised when I heard the work from Jamieson spanned 28 years. Not much evolution going on there. I just assume that this person enjoys the act of painting and has no interest in taking it any farther and that's about it.
And I felt kind of the same way about the photos, not exactly interesting, and the way they are tacked on the walls isn't exactly elegant -- not a fan of the thumbtacks for professional hanging. I am curious about how she got all those iceberg shots, though.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with people making work purely for their own aesthetic tastes, but it's unfortunate that the RCA gallery has been used to showcase such work. Why do you want your work hung in a public gallery if there's not much to say about it? I'm also looking forward to future shows.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous pantysniffer said...

welcome back
this isn't asshole commentary, it is a true reaction that is no different than my own. It does appear amateurish for sure but it also says alot about who and what was in charge of the programming as well. I look forward to seeing some work in the future under the guidance of the new director - Corey - and the board members. I'm sure artists working in a more contemporary fashion have felt slighted by commercial and artist run centers in this town, perhaps the tables are turning a little or leveling out in some way..
Anyways I'm completely glad to see this post and I hope to see more like it.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as somebody who was on the gallery committee at the Hall, and was a party to the programming of this exhibition, I feel the need to respond to Pantysniffer. In our defence, we were only able to program from the applications/ proposals that we received, and there were pretty slim pickings. If you have a problem with the RCA Gallery, pantysniffer, be part of the solution. Submit an application (if you are an artist, that is)or encourage other people whose work you respect to apply. I can only tell you that it is terribly disheartening to have to program a gallery exhibition schedule when the applications are mostly weak.

12:38 AM  
Blogger craigfrancis said...

Again, I'd just like to say this review isn't a knock on the Hall. It's obvious that the place is a vital cultural institution not only for St. John's but for the entire province.

I think previous problems with the programming in the gallery lie in what was a rather narrow call for submissions. In the past, it wasn't something publicized very well in the city, let alone outside the province. Given the small number of artists here, it's understandable that a selection committee would feel handcuffed in planning a year of shows.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous pantysniffer said...

I agree with both craig and anonymous. You are both right and I jumped the gun on that a bit..You have to pick from what is given, and craig mentioned the lack of publicity concerning programming. Well I'm just looking forward to and hoping for it to get a little better all around. I have nothing to vindicate. I have nothing to add. The Hall is a place. I would like to see it as an important place for all artists. This is my only hope for it.

3:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a sad show. I ignored it, good for CFP for not. The hall is as good as its users, I wish it well

4:57 PM  

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