NEW OTTAWA STREET GALLERY
There’s a new gallery on the block.
Ben Navaee, who owns a gallery in Toronto, has opened one on Ottawa Street North. An engineer by training, he plans to teach classes in painting, sculpture, photography and yoga on the premises.
Navaee has been in the art business for 16 years and says he will be showing work by both established and emerging artists.
The opening exhibition features a varied selection of paintings and drawings by five artists: Sandee Ewasiuk, Mirka Hattula, Wayne Kodje, Terry Golletz and Charles Wakefield.
Both Ewasiuk and Hattula tackle the human figure and add a personal touch.
Ewasiuk, a well-known Hamilton artist, paints big acrylics in an exuberantly colourful and simplified style. In “Nice Catch,” she lets a red-haired woman in a green knitted cap dominate the composition.
“Nice Catch was inspired by a family trip to Newfoundland last August,” Ewasiuk tells me. “Newfoundland is an important place to me as it’s part of my heritage. My mother was born there, as were my grandparents, and this recent vacation included my mom and her four sisters.”
The woman embraces a large fish. Ewasiuk enlivens the fish with a lively pattern of rainbow hues. Similar colours appear in the buildings and boats in the distance.
“I think on a more subconscious level it represents the Newfoundlanders holding their fish close to their hearts,” Ewasiuk says.
Hattula’s “Bad Day” also focuses on a centralized, space-taking human figure. But she mutes her palette, placing the woman against an unadorned background and enclosing her within soft-edged lines. Some of these lines look like accidental scribbles on the painting’s surface.
“I try to concentrate only on the essential in my portraits and leave other parts somewhat unfinished to give the painting a loose or raw feel,” Hattula explains.
Neither Ewasiuk’s nor Hattula’s subjects look out at us. We are, however, able to see the face of Ewasiuk’s woman. Hattula’s sitter holds her head in her hands, so only the top of her head is visible. Artist and sitter are one — sort of. “I used a photo of myself as a reference when painting it, but it is not supposed to be portraying me but the mood.”
Hattula, who lives in Oakville, says this painting is part of a series called Womanhood.
“My Womanhood series depicts moods or emotions that I think many women face. I started to paint ‘Bad Day’ on a cold winter day, when I didn’t feel like waking up at all, a little depressed, not ready to face the world, just wanting to curl up on the corner of a sofa.”
Kodje, an Ojibwa artist, tackles aboriginal themes. In “Dogs Fight in the Next World Too,” a dynamic black and white drawing, he places a pair of dogs in a white space. The two eye each other, mouths threatening, bodies ready to pounce.
Kodje treats the bodies as black forms filled with white shapes recalling bones. In other words, we see both the exterior and interior at the same time. This is a traditional way of depicting human and animal bodies in Anishinaabe art.
Regina Haggo, art historian, public speaker, curator and former professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, teaches at the Dundas Valley School of Art. firstname.lastname@example.org
Below: Mirka Hattula, “Bad Day,” oil painting, $550.
Sandee Ewasiuk, “Nice Catch,” acrylic painting, $2,000.
Wayne Kodje, Dogs Fight in the Next World Too, drawing, $600.