Modern medieval

Studio22’s Impression: Expression exhibits the complimentary work of two artists

Holly Dean’s multi-media artwork explores environmental and linguistic themes by layering text, images and bold acrylic palettes.
Holly Dean’s multi-media artwork explores environmental and linguistic themes by layering text, images and bold acrylic palettes.
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Larry Thompson’s black and white prints show a variety of themes, including nude portraits and furniture stills.
Larry Thompson’s black and white prints show a variety of themes, including nude portraits and furniture stills.
Photo: 

A new exhibit at Studio22 contrasts one artist’s hand-printed images with another’s colourful collage.

Impression: Expression is an apt title for the dual exhibit, pairing Larry Thompson’s ink prints and Holly Dean’s textured, multi-media canvases.

It creates a connection between modern and decorative aesthetics.

The exhibition brochure explains, “this exhibition features complementary work which explores the artists’ ongoing fascination with the connection between past and present, be it historical or fantastical.”

The first part of the exhibit is dedicated to Thompson’s art. Entering the space, the walls are lined with his black and white, letterpress prints. Thompson uses out-of-date techniques of bookbinding and printing to create prints, broadsides and books.

Using a manual printing press, Thompson makes his ink prints using engraved wood and metal stamps.

A table near the entrance displays several of Thompson’s handcrafted books that viewers are encouraged to open and touch.

One of the books is a rebound version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan. He hand-sewed the delicate pages together and added several of his own printed images as illustration. Touching the book is essential to appreciate its old-style manufacturing.

Another work is a compilation of 19th-century illustrations by wood engraver S. S. Kilburn. Thompson received the original woodcuts from an undisclosed benefactor. He spent a year restoring the dried-out wood with a humidifier before printing the images and assembling the book.

Entering Dean’s section of the gallery is a bit of a shock. Where Thompson captures a clean, two-toned aesthetic, Dean explores complex textures and vivid colours. Transitioning from Thompson’s space into Dean’s is like plunging into a fantasy.

Mixed in with collages and paintings, quotations like W.C. Williams’ “In summer the song sings itself,” or William Blake’s “Exuberance is beauty,” are written in intricate serif fonts, reinforcing the enchantment of Dean’s work.

Amongst her painted leaf prints and acrylic canvases — often textured with sand and string — an arrangement of eight hand-sized works stand out.

Altered Images layers original images, like pictures of church windows, with bold mauves and muted greens. Dean digitally manipulated the works using iMac and iPhone technology.

Thompson’s work, mixing old techniques of bookbinding, block printing and letterpress, represents the historical and classical part of the exhibit. Dean’s work represents the imagined and emotional worlds.

The two very different bodies of work are surprisingly complimentary. Impression: Expression showcases the relationship between the classical and the fantastical as well as manufactured versus handmade.

Impression: Expression is in Studio22’s Open Gallery until Dec. 18.

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