Circling the crosshairs of entertainment

Queen’s BFA grad’s exhibit uses oil paintings to convey messages regarding reality television

Two of the paintings in Anna Elmberg Wright’s Consensus Series deal with society’s voyeurism using TLC’s hit TV show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo as an example.
Two of the paintings in Anna Elmberg Wright’s Consensus Series deal with society’s voyeurism using TLC’s hit TV show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo as an example.
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Anna Elmberg Wright’s new exhibit Consensus Series is, in a word, lacklustre.

I had done a little reading on Wright, BFA ’08, beforehand and was fully prepared to be captivated and intrigued by her work.

Unfortunately, all I was left with was a sunken feeling of disappointment.

The exhibit consists of 11 large oil canvas paintings, all of which pictured a circle with a cross inside.

The pieces differed from one another in colour inside the cross — varying from hues of green, red, blue, orange, yellow and purple.

The nine paintings are titled numerically ranging from Consensus 1.1 to Consensus 1.9. The two others that follow were the odd ones out, the artist opting to name them Honey Boo Boo is U 2 and U 2 is Honey Boo Boo, respectively.

After reading Wright’s artist statement, I saw how the circles in the Consensus 1.1-9 paintings symbolized the “consensus” aspect to her work — the “oneness with all.” Wright’s inherent beliefs on “secular surveillance values” showed in her work, the concept of video cameras or computers watching us seemed plausible.

But it was when she tried to link “self-help paradigms,” medicine wheels and social networking to the series that I was astounded. I was left with the feeling that Wright was grasping at straws with her painting series.

Her attempts to connect far too many concepts to her work results in the overall meaning of the works becoming jumbled.

The end result was a show that fell short of its original potential.

While I appreciated Wright’s homage to TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and its allusion to present-day voyeurism, it seemed oddly specific.

The artist appears to be pointing to the fact that by watching and celebrating Honey Boo Boo, we are part of the majority of society as indicated by the “U 2” in the paintings’ titles.

I agree with Wright in her thinking that society will watch anything so long as it’s entertaining; however, it seems arbitrary that Consensus 1.10 and Consensus 1.11 were taken aside from the rest of the series when they didn’t have any distinguishing qualities.

There were some redeeming qualities to the exhibit though.

The sculptural components to her work, concaved and uneven canvases beneath her oil paints, added intrigue to what was otherwise a geometrically repetitive show.

Her use of complementary colours in the painting keeps the viewer stimulated and by moving the location of the circle and cross around the canvas in each painting, she keeps the viewer’s interest piqued.

Despite Wright’s attempts to make connections with everyday life through concepts of “social networks” and contemporary pop culture references, her exhibit didn’t quite resonate with me — the ideas behind the artwork were better than the actual pieces themselves.

I may have misinterpreted, but it was clear that I wasn’t a part of the “consensus.”

Anna Elmberg Wright’s show is on exhibit in the Wilson Room of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library central branch until Oct. 31.

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