Gallery 78 highlights work by Francis Wishart and Gerald Collins with the exhibit, ‘Self Portrait’.
A much-anticipated exhibition, Self Portrait features new monotypes by Francis Wishart and colourfully bold paintings by Gerard Collins. Though not entirely a show of self portraits in the strict sense of the word, these bodies of work portray the extension of selves of these two talented artists. Self Portrait delves into their harmony with the natural world, their workspaces (Francis’ at his camp in Nigadoo; Gerard’s home studio and surrounding rural and urban landscapes), and is all grounded with bits of Canadiana and seemingly disparate objects to make a pleasing whole: a portrait of themselves.
The gallery is also currently showing the exhibit New Brunswick Collects which includes rare works by David Silverberg, a 1940’s oil by Miller Gore Brittain, lithographs by Jean-Paul Riopelle, wood carvings by Nancy Schofield among many others.
Both exhibitions begin on April 20 and continue until May 13.
About the artists:
The subjects of Francis Wishart’s monotypes come from his surroundings. He shares his time between Provence and New Brunswick and these two different but harmonious sources emerge in his work. His monotypes seem to capture scenes from a dream. Details blend together and yet distinctions are not lost between the elements that trick us into uncertainty about the subject of the work. The focus seems to shift and what at first appeared so important drifts into the background. The balance of colour and movement play with the viewer; the image shimmers always just out of reach. It may be the light in Southern France that inspires this diaphonous sense of form, it may be the way the land dissolves through the trees into the skies of New Brunswick that informs it.
Whatever the source, Wishart’s work has been very well received around the world. Born in 1951 to artists Anne Dunn and Michael Wishart in London, England, Francis studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. After that he moved to Paris where he worked and advanced his technique with master printers at l’Atelier Lacourière et Frelaut. Wishart has had important exhibitions in London and Paris including several at the Royal Academy of Art and La Courriere as well as many exhibitions throughout Australia, Europe and North America. His work is included in important public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Bibliothèque National, the British Embassy in Paris and the UK Government art collection.
Still passionately committed to monotype this most serious artist has other important interests. In France he maintains a vineyard, the organic grapes of which are made into wine by local vintners. Throughout the world Wishart is a highly active and dedicated conservationist. Having worked with David Suzuki, Wishart has also produced a film for the National Film Board. Awareness and engagement with the world around him characterises Francis Wishart and his art.
Gerard Collins was born and bred in Saint John, New Brunswick, and he has chosen to remain and make his art in the city he calls home. However, the influences and self-imposed rules which govern the act of painting for Collins arise out of a number of currents in 20th Century art. His early education in the visual arts took him well beyond the borders of NB to the St. Martin’s School of Art in London, England, then to the Dusseldorf Staatliche Kunstakademie in Germany and studies under Gerhard Richter one of the world’s leading contemporary artists, and to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he was mentored by conceptual artist Gerald Ferguson.
The fact that Collins’ paintings are quite beautiful seems almost a fortunate afterthought. Artist, and former Director/CEO of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Ray Cronin, has written that, “Collins’ practice is rooted solidly in a world of subversive ideas as befits the conceptual tradition. The fragments, the individual paintings are, finally, records of the fact that art has happened. That Collins is a very fine painter is almost incidental.”
Collins has pursued the practice of rules-based painting since he graduated. Through the course of many series such as the Work Ethic Series, the Harlequin Paintings, the Memory Paintings, Diary Paintings, Factory Paintings, and now the Walt Whitman series, he has continued to create a body of work which, though born out of conceptual strategy, is aesthetically pleasing and definitely beautiful to behold.
Considered to be one of the finest contemporary painters in the region, Gerard Collins has had numerous exhibitions since 1977. His work can be found in many important collections including The National Gallery of Canada, the New Brunswick Museum, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the University of New Brunswick, Mount St. Vincent University, the Owens Art Gallery, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canada Council Art Bank, the New Brunswick Art Bank as well as corporate and private collections. Gerard Collins has been the recipient of Canada Council Grants and New Brunswick Creations Grants and was the 2001 winner of the prestigious Strathbutler Award from the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation.