Neil Campbell, Roy, 2008, acrylic on wood panel, 45" x 84";
Peter Schuyff, Dutch Happy, 2007, oil on found canvas, 15.75" x 19.5"
Neil Campbell & Peter Schuyff
January 19 - February 14, 2008
Opening Reception Saturday January 19, 6-8pm
Opening on January 19th, 2008, The Balmoral is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Neil Campbell and Peter Schuyff. This is both artists' first exhibition with The Balmoral, and comes hot on the heels of their very successful pairing at Blanket Gallery, Vancouver, BC. Campbell and Schuyff, who are longtime friends, have several things in common as painters, not least of which being their mutual engagements with abstraction. There is, naturally, an obvious tendency towards cross-pollination which is to occur when artists share both a close friendship and physical space (the two have, in the past, occupied adjoining studios in both New York and, Vancouver.) However, there lie fundamental and exciting differences between a Campbell and a Schuyff, differences manifest in use of physical space, relation to the viewer, and energy within the pictorial plane.
Neil Campbell was born in Saskatchewan and currently lives and works in Vancouver. His work has appeared in galleries and institutions in Canada, the United States and abroad, including the Vancouver Art Gallery (for which, in 2005/2006, he produced the remarkable BASE/MACHINE, a light installation in the gallery façade); Centre d'art Contemporain, Montreal; The Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, and Art and Public, Geneva. He recently had a solo exhibition at Galeria Franco Noero in Turin, Italy.
Known for his often enormous renderings of simplified geometric shapes featuring circles, rings and parabolas in impenetrable black and violent fluorescents, Campbell's work delivers a strong physiological impact. His new works address both the body and the room with his trademark combination of stateliness and whimsy. Venice (Maroon), a mid-sized aubergine-colored aluminum panel with four circles stamped out of it, begins life as a standard trompe l’oeil and finishes as a meditation on the way architecture informs art and vice versa. The panel with its imposing, authoritative “X”, seems to float towards the viewer. When attention shifts to the pattern of missing orbs, the viewer’s focus is directed to the wall. Through this shift, the wall -the picture’s support -is subsequently caught up in the depiction of pictorial space. The tension of the panel both coming between the viewer and the wall, while conjuring a kind of spatial harmony with it, is perplexing and yet utterly natural. With Zero 2007, Campbell ups the ante by painting his geometric tropes directly onto the wall. In this case, a square of eight small saffron yellow discs framed in black surround four slightly larger discs of the same variety. There is no shortage of tension in this piece either; the center discs seem to pulsate outward, creating a starburst in miniature, an ever-kinetic knot of energy. As the ground and support are essentially conflated, the piece delivers itself up to the architecture and vice versa; hence the energy of this work takes on a special significance, as it acts to mediate the viewer to the entire room.
Born in Baarn, Holland in 1958, Peter Schuyff spent much of his youth in Victoria and Vancouver, before moving to New York and establishing himself in the 1980's as one of the younger art generation's stellar talents. His work has been featured at galleries and institutions including Pat Hearn, Tony Shafrazi, Leo Castelli and Paul Kasmin galleries in New York; Larry Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles; Nicola Jacobs Gallery in London; Galeria Lenarco in Torino, Italy; and Akira Ikeda Gallery, in Nagoya, Japan, as well as at the Vancouver Art Gallery's hugely successful PAINT exhibition (2006-2007). Schuyff's most recent show took place in September 2007 at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery in New York.
In these latest paintings, Schuyff again delivers his signature “riffs” on top of found works, yet this time, the forms are more shocking, the palette hotter, the overall effect more startling, more “deluxe.” In Napalm, a watercolor landscape (of a peaceful South East Asian pastoral scene) is ruptured by two giant plates made up of raised concentric circles, each working inwards from lush Kelly green to muddy ochre to hot vermillion to an open center. In another piece, entitled Losa 2, a similar plate (this starting in cobalt blue at the edges and moving inward to a center of gold green) hovers just over the horizon of a village street like some kind of bad omen. Our enjoyment of Schuyff’s large multicolored discs is twofold. Firstly, these tropes “invade” the scene, making the artist’s presence felt, both through the injection of strong form and color, as well as through the slight wandering of the brush stroke that renders this abstract commentary touched by the hand. Secondly, the open centers of these discs serve as a kind of collective keyhole for peeping, a reminder that we are here to look. The invading plates are both obstructions to and conduits of meaning. On a slightly different note, “Nicky”, a portrait of the doomed last Tsar of all the Russia, Nicholas II, tangles up its legendary protagonist in a boxy, near-anthropomorphic frame of blues and aquamarines. Recalling the ridiculousness and charm of Fernand Leger’s Cubist Charlie Chaplin, as well as the crude action figures of early video games, this luminous device not only traps the subject within in the pictorial plane, but, in the context of history, actually teleports him from the stilted limbo of mediocre nineteenth-century portraiture into a realm of modernity and dynamism. Here, abstraction is not just an instrument but also a kind of champion.Using a combination of visceral impetus, precision, and cheek, both Campbell and Schuyff are producing works that refresh the agenda of abstraction. For all their differences, both artists present a united front when it comes to the celebration of paradox and pleasure.