How to view “The Prism of Harmony”

By Glen Noble

Propeller Gallery, 30 Abell Street, Toronto

Dr. Kenneth G. Mills has said: “Let planning be your springboard so that spontaneity can be your splash!” That is a worthy operating principle for any walk of life, including artistic pursuits. The planning component is a combination of practice, experimentation, experience, and the honing of skill sets. The spontaneity component reflects the openness and nowness that allow for flexibility, intuition, and new possibilities. In both my photography and hanging of art pieces, composition is all important, and juxtaposition is a crucial element of composition. It straddles both planning and spontaneity and can yield results greater than expected.

The goal in this exhibit From Standpoint to Viewpoint: The Prism of Harmony was to arrange the paintings of three artists with distinct styles so they would stand out individually, yet merge in the way a prism’s facets flow in various directions, each direction offering a different experience. The large walls allowed for this, while the small areas enabled a few strong pieces to command their own space and importance – specifically Greg Hindle’s narrative paintings Looking Up, Better Days Ahead, and Out Of Place; and Gayle Dempsey’s landscape Almost Home. In the groupings, from one painting to another, the eye can choose to follow colour trails, subject-matter connections, or the flow and direction of brush strokes. An example of a colour trail would be the three paintings on the left of the south wall, where violet is the common frequency. Another would be on the north wall, where a vertically arranged pair of Kenneth Mills’s paintings features two predominant colours: red and green. This strong linking of two colour opposites asserts itself between the adjacent palettes containing blue and orange – another colour opposite.

The theme of water and its role in nature traverses the entire north wall in Greg Hindle’s and Gayle Dempsey’s paintings. The energy and heat of a comforting fire leaps from Greg Hindle’s riverbank and explodes in the intense orange of Kenneth Mills’s lilies – a leap from physical temperature to visual temperature. After following one trajectory, the viewer can start with the same painting and move in another direction to explore where it leads. Gayle Dempsey’s three paintings below Kenneth Mills’s calla lily form a natural triptych with their treatment of trees and verticality. And the golden background in the middle painting links to the yellow of Kenneth Mills’s florals on either side. It is exciting to discern the various viewpoints and standpoints on display and how they connect. We have micro and macro, human and non-human situations, environmental and social themes.

Kenneth Mills’s dramatic floral paintings situate themselves as large punctuation marks. They invite a pause and confront us with a close-up look at the brilliant garments that nature dons – garments that dazzle with colour and intricacy, yet act in a functional capacity within our vast ecosystem. Set amongst their neighbours on the walls, they allow the viewer to zoom in like a bee, drink in (and marvel at) the details, then zoom out to gain perspective as to how everything in nature exists in harmony.

In this show we are called upon to consider and navigate diverse paths and viewpoints, stimulated by the juxtapositions. Do we appear as discrete beings? Yes. Yet we are also a collective and share the responsibility for maintaining a viable and wonder-filled home on Earth. Which standpoint will you choose?





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1 Comment

  • Blair says:

    Glen, this is a beautifully hung show. Thank you so much, and for this simple, elegant commentary on viewing. Kudos!!!

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