Mary Jo Hughes

Arts faculty Paradox

UVic fine arts faculty reveals some art isn't what it appears to be at the Legacy Art Gallery

When a person thinks of the term paradox, thoughts of contradictions and unusual truths come to mind.

The current University of Victoria fine arts faculty exhibit at the Legacy Art Gallery downtown, Paradox, is a varied collection of pieces that appear at first to be one thing but offer something more upon deeper examination.

The show’s curator, Mary Jo Hughes, offers up Daniel Laskarin’s sculpture, “blue chair :: if this”, as an example.

“His work is very sensual. It makes you want to touch it, but at the same time it’s rather treacherous, with shards of Fibreglass sticking out,” Hughes says.

Next to it, Laskarin’s things come apart – a square metal bar ripped apart with shotgun blasts but painted with a brilliant red finish offers another conflict in emotion, she adds. “Each of the pieces do have some kind of inherent paradox in them.”

Jennifer Stilwell’s unique installation across the room features a group of room fans in series – only one unit is running but all the blades move – facing a collection of raised wooden planks, painted blue at each end to represent lake water.

It tells a personal story and relates to a time when she was working in her studio in sweltering heat, but longing to be at her parent’s lakefront cottage, Hughes says.

The exhibit, running since Oct. 31, features recent works and represents the first time since the 1970s that UVic’s visual arts faculty has shown together.

Hughes says she was a little nervous putting together an exhibit with so many different unrelated styles. At the same time, as she walks around the gallery, she finds subtle connections between the pieces, each of which presents its own kind of humorous irony.

Public reaction to the exhibit has – like the art itself – been varied, she says.

“We had a man walk in this morning. He was in about three minutes then left and said ‘okee dokee, then.’ But for every one of those guys, we have two other people who come in and say ‘it’s so nice there’s some challenging art in here.’”

Many forms of visual art were initially considered “challenging” by the establishment, Hughes says, from Monet to Van Gogh, yet much of it has come to be known as mainstream and well accepted.

“The main point of art is to help people look at the world a different way,” she says.

The Legacy Gallery is currently closed for the holidays and reopens Jan. 2. Paradox runs to Jan. 11. Opening hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

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