The Hamilton Spectator - - GO -

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. dhaggo@thes­

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.


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