On Feb 15th I attended the opening to the Fatty Acid show at the Nanaimo Art Gallery featuring artists Rodney Corraini and Jean-Paul Langlois.
I met Rodney for the first time a few years back when we hung out Saturday afternoons to drink coffee, chat, listen to music and draw. How best to describe Rodney? He defies description in many ways. Rodney is Rodney. He has a huge heart and love for the arts and small creatures that need tender care. His art doesn’t always reflect that side of him—he has a fondness for vampires, aliens, zombies, dead things in general—but then like I said: Rodney is Rodney.
We were once sketching and my drawing was not going well that day. I was attempting to draw a teapot, jar and a coffee cup—Rodney’s coffee cup. I could not focus and the sketch wasn’t working for me till I got to the coffee cup and suddenly my drawing began to hit its stride. When Rodney went to pick up the cup to take a sip I yelled “Stop! I’m drawing that!” He waited with a smirk on his face till I told him I was done. Among Rodney’s many qualities is he is patient with others.
|The coffee cup|
For Fatty Acid, Rodney’s focus was food and how we use, celebrate and sometimes abuse it in our current culture. Rodney explained that he often starts with an idea that tickles his imagination and then breathes life into that idea by creating a visual representation. It is a conceptual approach to art making: to develop an idea first then bring it into fruition. His subject matter express a stark reality. One work reveals a sagging male body clad only in underwear, snacking in front of a glowing television. Another painting’s subject is children eating convenience food in a playground and another of a man harvesting from a lake a fish too big for one person to consume.
|Public Recreation by Rodney Corraini|
The titles of his paintings convey Rodney’s humour: “Pretty Soon Fricassee,” “Sunk by a Sturgeon,” “Future Bouillabaisse.” His work is very painterly, and each work differs in terms of technique. Sometimes his oil paint is quite thick and textural—reminiscent of Van Gogh. In other work his brushstrokes are smooth and a background of black becomes a cohesive feature in joining the elements. The quality of these works reminds me somewhat of stained glass. Some of the paintings in the exhibit date back a year or so but a few pieces were so fresh that the oil was still wet (a painter friend threatened to smudge the works with her fingers but it was just an idle threat.)
|Sunk by a Sturgeon by Rodney Corraini|
|Rodney with Pretty Soon Fricassee|
The other artist in the show was new to me.
Jean-Paul has a vibrant energy that is fresh and engaging. Besides being a visual artist, Jean-Paul is also a huge music fan and acted as DJ for the show providing the background music. Jean-Paul’s visual contributions were a number of large scale canvases with varied subject matter. He described a bit of his method and his latest work in acrylic often starts by capturing a film still and then searching for elements that juxtapose the original content. For instance, one work pairs riders from a spaghetti western with teams of fluttering butterflies. The very large scale of this painting serves a purpose; he wants to create the cinematic grandeur of a movie house screen.
|Jean-Paul's work inspired by Spaghetti Westerns.|
For Jean-Paul art is very much a process. He gets the initial idea and then through working and toying with it “happy accidents” occur. Jean-Paul prefers to use a lot of colour contrast in his work, and depending on where his process takes him the result can either be cartoonish or very 70’s pop art. “Fatty Acid” is a work where contrasts are controlled to such a degree that they become “jarring and abrasive” which was the artist’s intent. (He admitted that he didn’t know the exhibit theme had a focus on food so “Fatty Acid” was created exclusively for this showing.) Most of Jean-Paul work is texturally smooth which is apt since he is attempting to convey film or cartoon page. However “Autistic Boy” produced in 2010 is quite different in feel and brushwork. The brush sweeps are broad, bold and confident and fascinating to view close up.
|Fatty Acid by Jean-Paul Langlois|
|Autistic Boy by Jean-Paul Langlois|
|Jean-Paul and BMX Assassins|
Rodney and Jean-Paul are very different in terms of style, approach and content but they both have a sense of humour that is apparent in their work. Kudos to the Nanaimo Art Gallery for pairing these two artists together for a joint showing. The Fatty Acid show runs from Feb 13 to Feb. 23 at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial St.
If you wish to contact the artists please direct your inquiries to the Nanaimo Art gallery: http://www.nanaimoartgallery.com/