Eight years of fine lines

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Brock University’s Rodman Hall Art Centre will host an exciting exhibition featuring the work of London, Ontario-based artist, Kelly Wallace, titled Within Range.

Wallace received his Fine Arts Degree from the University of Guelph in 1993 and has since received an award grant from the Canada Council for the Arts as well as a number of government art grants. He has been featured in multiple exhibitions in the past decade, with Rodman Hall being his most recent. Within Range opened at the gallery on Jan. 10 and features work from the last eight years of Wallace’s career in art. Though Wallace’s work typically consists of graphite or ink on paper, these seemingly simple mediums speak nothing to the complex and overwhelmingly detailed masterpieces that result from the hours of hard work he puts into each piece.

On average, Wallace spends about 3000 hours annually on his drawings. This works out to being over eight hours each day over the course of an entire year. He acknowledges the social sacrifices involved in creating the work he produces, but it is his passion and getting his work seen at more exhibitions has been his goal within the past few years. He has been in exhibitions across Canada and in the United States.

His work is rooted in dualities. Each piece either incorporates the beauty of a natural landscape, rich with a thick boreal forest, or a running stream, or the remains of a man-made structural composition in ruins following a natural disaster or the effects of time. In all of his work, light and dark aspects are severely evident given that his work is primarily comprised of black, white and grey and also in the way that he incorporates shading into his works.

“In either series of drawings, the monumental images uncover the visual complexities of seemingly divergent scenes: a slow-moving river set against a dense forest or the visceral remains of man-made structures after a catastrophe,” according to Rodman Hall. Sketching is a common practice and in the art world isn’t always considered to be “fine art”; however, to say Wallace’s work is “common” in any way could not be further from the truth.

On a first glance at any of his drawings, it appears as though you could touch and feel the texture of the image, when in reality they are just pencil strokes on a page, placed together creating a hyper-realistic, black and white image. He works from the top of the paper to the bottom and works left to right. When you look closely at his works, there are no traces of outlines or any lines crossing because the images on the page are comprised of all vertical lines in such a detailed manner as to create the fictitious scenes he imagines.

“In his working method, the artist combines the laborious techniques of traditional drawing on paper and gessoed panels with a system of mark-making using a short straight line,” as stated by the gallery. “This disintegration of minute detail into singular lines slows the viewer’s eye and allows precise representation and loose abstraction to exist in each drawing, simultaneously. Such visual ambiguity creates an atmospheric tension, alluding to the inherent contradictions of our contemporary world.”

The size of the drawings is equally important to note as these aren’t just sketches someone has pulled from any small sketch book. Most of his drawings are fairly largescale, such as his piece called “Reparation no.5” which is 35” x 55” in size. The size of his work adds to how much effort and detail Wallace is committed to putting into each drawing.

Most of his drawings, as early as 2006, are available for viewing online, but while the detail is evident, seeing them online is nothing in comparison to how incredibly overwhelming the drawings are in person against a plain white wall. Take the opportunity to see how Wallace has taken the simple mediums of a pencil and paper and turned them into something that cannot be overlooked.

These drawings are undeniably beautiful to say the least and Rodman Hall is excited to be featuring the exhibition in the gallery. For anyone who is the least bit interested in sketching, nature, architecture and is amazed by detail, it cannot be overstated how worthy this exhibition is of attendance. Additionally, for anyone interested in meeting Kelly Wallace and learning more about his techniques, he will be hosting a Hot Talk at Rodman Hall on Feb. 26 at 7:00 p.m. where he will explain his sketches and art form to the spectators.

“Within Reach” will be featured at Rodman Hall until Mar. 22. For more information visit brocku.ca/rodman-hall and to see Wallace’s sketches visit terminalarts.com

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