News : 2016

"The Ripple Effect: Water feature a highlight of new installation by Steve Driscoll"
Liane Faulder, Edmonton Journal
10/13/2016

Imagine. You are outside, on a still, dark night. It’s late September and the ice has yet to settle on the lake. But the northern lights are anxious to get started for the season, and have streaked the blackness with shimmers of blue and green. The night is full, expectant.

 

That’s one person’s impression of the scene that greets from the entrance of the Peter Robertson Gallery, where Toronto artist Steve Driscoll has arrived with a remarkable installation called And a Dark Wind Blows.

 

The show features six, large contemporary landscapes, which are undeniably stunning. But the backdrop demands equal attention. The dramatic representations are placed alongside a man-made lake and a winding boardwalk, furiously constructed by the artist and gallery staff over the last several days. A dock is anchored at the far end of the gallery, close to an expansive vision of northern lights titled These Are Truly the Last Days. (The painting’s name is a tribute to a song by Montreal rock/orchestral band, Godspeed You! Black Emperor.)

“I’m trying to explore the awe and wonder of nature,” says Driscoll, 36, who mounted a much smaller version of the show last year at Angell Gallery in Toronto. “It immediately puts you in that place.”

         



The artist traditionally creates very large canvases, which he sometimes displays outside to take advantage of the scale of the natural world. But from a practical standpoint, art can only be so big. Driscoll began to think about water, and the way in which reflection enlarges a landscape. A lake was clearly the answer.

Walking into Peter Robertson Gallery feels like entering a cathedral, quiet and cool. Visitors must tread the wooden boardwalk with care; it moves a little, throwing ripples across the surface of the lake, which is only a few inches deep and created with the use of a thick, dark and (more-or-less) leak-proof pond liner. Three thousand pounds of stone were brought in for the exhibit, and a rock path extends between the boardwalk and the dock, which is 64 square feet.

   

While the northern lights painting is the most dramatic, all the works in the exhibit draw the eye and imagination toward heaven. Upward Gaze, for instance, presents clouds as the light struggles to break through. Stars spread in a spectral display is the subject of two other works titled I’ve Been Granted Visions, and Suddenly It’s Clear.

 

The canvases seem to shimmer. That’s, in part, because Driscoll paints with urethane.  (Yes, urethane — what you would use to coat your wood floors.)

 

“It hasn’t really been used as an artist’s material,” says Driscoll, who adds pigment directly to the oil-based product to create his vibrant colours. “I have been working with it for so long that I’ve created a whole painter’s toolbox. It makes marks that no other paint does.”

 

And a Dark Wind Blows opens Friday, Oct. 14, with a reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the gallery, located at 12323 104 Ave. Driscoll will be on hand Friday, and also on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The show runs until Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.

 

lfaulder@postmedia.com