ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present Breaker, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Wakefield, Quebec-based Gavin Lynch. The exhibition opens on Saturday, June 8 and runs until Saturday, July 27, 2019. A public reception with the artist will be held on the opening day from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
The Oxford dictionary defines “breaker” as: (1) a heavy wave that breaks into white foam on the shore, and (2) a person or thing that breaks something (as in a rule-breaker). Gavin Lynch’s new exhibition uses this word as a metaphor for an evolution in his painting practice as well as broader changes to the natural environment. Among Lynch’s new works are a series of paintings depicting cresting waves, as well as some monochromatic works. “I wanted to break away from the forest interiors of recent years and introduce a sense of movement,” he says. “Our experience of art and nature is mediated through technology, so I also wanted to address ideas around image resolution, colour saturation and other screen-related parameters in painting.”
Lynch started by researching the history of seascape painting. Key among his discoveries was the American painter Winslow Homer, who, in paintings like Northeaster (1895) and The Gulf Stream (1899), captured the fearful power and majestic beauty of the sea in images of waves crashing against rocky shorelines. “I looked at a lot of artworks that convey illusionistic movement on the static painted surface, from Group of Seven works like Fredrick Varley’s Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay to the Japanese printmaker Katsushita Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa (c 1833),” Lynch explains. “But, I also took ideas from online and stock photography and personal photos, like a deejay sampling.”
Lynch’s move into monochromes may seem a surprising break from his previous work, as well. The forest paintings’ sharply defined forms are easily limned by the eye, but the monochromes demand a different type of looking, operating as they do like sculptural objects. The eye needs more time to register the subtler shifts in colour, surface relief, light and shadow. “The monochromes do operate more slowly on the viewer,” says Lynch. “Going forward, I want to examine further Henri Matisse’s ideas around colour, quantity and size. A painting consisting of a square foot of a uniform hue has a much different effect than a uniformly coloured painting that is six square feet.”
The paintings in Breaker conflate the analogue past and the digital present. Viewed from a distance, the paintings remain representational but collapse into individual abstract elements when examined up close. “I want my work to feel like it’s pushing against the traditional,” says Lynch. Indeed, his paintings present a world where the waves don’t just break, they pixelate. – Bill Clarke