The human figure in all its variations is the focus of the Salt Spring Arts Council’s Easter Art Show at Mahon Hall this year, and Body of Work proves there are just as many ways to express that variation as to live it.
Any artist, whether working in clay, paint or pencil, is faced with the challenge of not just getting the form right but to somehow convey the life-force behind the curves and wrinkles that makes the body more than just an object. Meeting the theme has meant reaching back to earlier pieces by several of the 20 local artists involved, which serves to add another interesting layer to the exhibition.
It’s hard to imagine a better grasp of the body in art’s inherent duality than the gestural sculptures by OJ Clarke. His fired clay pieces are textured and unglazed, with the nude figures at one with the earthy material in which they were formed and yet full of human character and emotion.
Standing Nude Man, with arms crossed and face tilted down, has an especially sensitive appeal. Emperor, seated in a thinking pose with robes draped over his lower body, is both classic and accessible. Nude women also have a classic elegance, with their sharp shoulders balanced by heavier thighs and bottoms.
Melanie Williams likewise has a sense of marrying classic themes and style with a modern approach in her oil paintings. Crouching Man is a great exploration of the male body’s capacity for power. The bent naked body, seen in profile, seems to showcase every muscle, from shoulders, back and arms to legs and gluteals. The man’s curved back suggests vulnerability as well, though. His furthest arm wraps around to grasp his neck, protecting his face from the viewer.
Body of Work continues at Mahon Hall from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sunday, April 23. Artist talks and special events are happening through Saturday. See the What’s On calendar for details.