A physical experience

Review: Catharsis by Douglas Smith

On Friday, Sept. 14 aceartinc. launched a powerful new exhibit, Catharsis, by Douglas Smith. Catharsis is a series of black and white panoramic drawings that explore ideas related to the rapid changes of our environment and the angst surrounding it.

I entered the gallery on a quiet weekday afternoon. Aceartinc. is located on McDermot Avenue in an old historical building, so visiting the gallery is an experience in itself. While walking up the creaky wooden stairs to the gallery you feel transported back in time.

Once inside I felt my eyes darting back and forth trying to decipher each drawing. The drawings are large and quite abstract so I made sure to take my time. From a distance, each piece seems straightforward – a landscape, a portrait. A closer view reveals the molecular structure is hundreds of graphic symbols.

After scanning the first piece in the gallery I was not sure what I was seeing – fields of wheat? Soldiers marching? I stepped closer but the mystery was not revealed. The perspective changes and new details are shown though the meaning gives way more slowly.

According to the artist’s website, Catharsis was intended as a physical experience, a visual sensation, not an intellectual exercise – and that’s just what it is. The drawings will surround and overwhelm, and there is much to take in.

Smith describes his artwork as a non-linear storyline inspired by his life in the Canadian prairies and the Netherlands. It was created between 2007 and 2010, and rendered with graphite on paper.

Douglas Smith is a graduate of the University of Manitoba Fine Arts diploma program. His art has been displayed at exhibitions in Manitoba, the United States, and Europe. Smith has been the recipient of many grants in Manitoba. In addition to working in his studio, he is currently a sessional instructor for acrylic painting at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. A detailed bio analysis of his pieces can be found on his website, douglassmith.ca.

In a short video biography, Smith explains that he refrains from using anything digital in his art. He prefers to use what he calls a “hand felt touch.” To him, art is almost like magic, making him feel part of whatever he is drawing.


Catharsis is a free exhibition will run in aceartinc. until Oct. 19.