Barbara Milne: Woven
Woven, an exhibition of oil paintings by Barbara Milne, will open November 19th 2022 at Calgary’s Wallace Galleries. At its heart is a selection of works completed over the past three years. For this exhibition, the artist has drawn inspiration from her observation of the natural world, her knowledge of historical art, and from her extensive collection of textiles, photography, collage, and earlier pieces in her studio. Past work speaks to new work in an ongoing conversation – netting a full range of expression.
Drawing on her love of textiles, Milne chose to call the exhibition Woven likening it to a length of woolen tweed, a seemingly simple warp and weft construction which, upon closer scrutiny, proves to be an increasingly complex and seductive read. Such is the case here. In these paintings, what might appear as a singular colour from a distance, reveals itself to be overlapping colours, tones, lines and shapes. The juxtaposition of the unexpected. A surface may be transparent in some areas yet richly built up in others. In Milne’s work the close up and distant views are presented simultaneously, resulting in landscapes that are both intimate in the form of a garden and majestic such as the glacier at Lake Louise.
Several paintings are centred on the exuberance of blossoms, their ephemeral beauty, and their eventual demise. Each flower is a vehicle of change, of what we experience and observe in our own lives. Certain passages are descriptive while others are abstract. Lustre is surrounded by tension and interference. Through the microcosm of a single bloom or an isolated tree, one sees into a larger unsettling world. Beauty is explored in the tradition of Vanitas painting, there is an awareness of the fleetingness of existence.
In the artist’s words, “Through editing and amplification of details, I am looking at the experience of wonder. I have long been aware of our fragile relationship to the land, pondering ideas of stewardship and vulnerability. In these works, we are ever reminded of temporality – of presence and absence – nature as we encounter it and as we remember it.”