Up-and-comers at Outworks

Friday, March 11 brought Winnipeg another ten centimetres of snow, MPI a new batch of accident claims and the art scene a new exhibit of emerging talent. Outworks gallery hosted Fan-Taz-Um, a collective exhibit of new artists from the University of Manitoba. The show exhibited a wide range of styles and subjects that can give a glimpse of what is to come in the Winnipeg art scene.

The evolution of art has come a long way from portraits of royalty and bowls of fruit. Fan-Taz-Um is a true example of where this evolution is heading. Curated by Ashley Feduniw and Anna Robinson, Fan-Taz-Um — meaning something that exists only in perception — is just that. A collection such as the one displayed could only exist in the perception of artists.

The group exhibition of new artists from the school of art at the University of Manitoba includes a variety of media, from painting and drawings to video and installation pieces. With a variety of styles and subjects represented, there is something to appeal to everyone. Self-portraits, social commentary, historically inspired work and the bare elements fill the white walls of the gallery in a manner that pulls the audience around to see the entire exhibit. Moving people around the gallery in a collective show like this is a difficult task for a curator, and these curators pulled it off with great success.

Group exhibits often have a theme that ties all of the work in the gallery together. The element that ties all of these works together is not a theme in the work itself; rather, it is in the artists. All of the contributing artists are emerging artists coming from the U of M. With this as the uniting factor of the show, there was a large challenge for curators Feduniw and Robinson. There was such an assortment of interests represented in the pieces, but by alternating features in subject and aesthetics, these two young curators/artists created a natural flow of art that leads the audience around the gallery to see all of the works.

Some of the works include “ ” by Chris Janes. The piece, curiously titled, displays an exact attention to detail as a well-executed painting of water. As an artist, I know that it is difficult to paint an entire canvas with one texture and keep it interesting. “ ” has such precise execution and detail that as you walk past it, the painting stops you mid-stride to just look.

In the bottom left corner of the painting there is a bright red object resembling a life preserver, but some have slight doubts on what the object is due to its positioning. Theoretically, the piece should draw attention to this object because of its bright red hue that is surrounded by a blue-green sea. In reality, there is so much detail in the waves that the piece pulls the viewer in closer to the canvas to investigate the detail and the red is almost lost in the sea.

On the opposite side of this piece hangs “Puppy Love” by artist Sarah Neville. The large canvas gives us something new in style and subject matter. A self-portrait is not new to the art world; neither is the subject of pets or even self-portraits with pets. This painting separates itself from these two common subjects by displaying a moment in time that any pet lover — and more specifically, dog lover — knows all too well, freezing that moment and glorifying it. Neville has captured the energy and emotion you feel when your beloved dog comes up and shows how much they really love you. “Puppy Love” shows just the faces of both Neville and her dog licking her face. The piece is painted in a unique style that is very colourful, full of energy and movement in each brushstroke.

Despite the blizzard and terrible road conditions, there was a large turnout for opening night. This just goes to show the dedication and passion for art that lives in the people of Winnipeg.

Fan-Taz-Um will be up until March 25 at Outworks gallery, located on the third floor of 290 McDermot Avenue.