Artful anatomy

BFA students inspired by the human figure

Jaclyne Grimoldby and Anicka Vrana-Godwin’s exhibit Anatomy Studies uses paintings, lithographs and prints to encourage viewers to question what’s below the surface of skin.
Jaclyne Grimoldby and Anicka Vrana-Godwin’s exhibit Anatomy Studies uses paintings, lithographs and prints to encourage viewers to question what’s below the surface of skin.
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Beneath your skin lies raw, unsheathed art.

Anatomy Studies revels in the unknown and the undecided, and challenges the viewer to see the body in new ways.

Fourth-year fine arts students Jaclyne Grimoldby and Anicka Vrana-Godwin present a collection of paintings, lithographs and prints that culminates in a collision of physical and non-physical realms.

Both artists share an interest in gross anatomy and discovering the body at a macroscopic level. They use images of human biology to explore the relationship between the physiological and the psychological.

The exhibit is immediately striking due to the massive size of the works. The large-scale pieces were, at first, overwhelming, yet not overbearing. Larger-than-life faces and lengthy limbs were boldly exposed in thick strokes of paint and dark ink.

The contours of the human body were unabashedly emphasized. I noticed the deep crease in a folded arm, the faint shadow between two shoulder blades and the subtle dip in the slope of a nose.

Both artists mastered a careful balance of fragility and strength. The faces and bodies depicted in these paintings, prints and lithographs suggest an emotional depth that is held together by bone and flesh.

Wide brush strokes juxtapose the detailed carving that has clearly gone into the wood-cut prints. The variety literally opens up the bodies for the viewer to study the anatomy in these works.

Grimoldby’s artist statement explains that she “tries to represent psychological and internalized emotions in a physical way.” To explore this idea, she uses a palimpsest of faces in the black and white lithograph Self-Awareness and Portrait.

One face stares out at the viewer with wide eyes and its edges blend into another face gazing away. At the centre of the lithograph, behind the faces, is the stark bone of a skull. It reminds the viewer that basic anatomical structures are always behind human experience.

It seems that her paintings suggest that understanding emotion is dependent on understanding the physical body and that each informs the other.

Vrana-Godwin uses oil on canvas paintings that hang from the ceiling of the main space on invisible wire.

Her two canvases are entitled The Ten Foot Woman and green and blue and stand at five and six feet tall. The bodies of these women are unafraid to inhabit space — they fill the canvas in a way that presents the body as something substantial and significant.

Interestingly, the title of this exhibit hints at its willingness to question its own subject matter. Grimoldby and Vrana-Godwin’s pieces not only investigate the relationship between the physical and the psychological, but also suggest that no final answer can be arrived at regarding this complex relationship.

Anatomy Studies is on exhibit in the Main Space of Union Gallery until Nov. 27.

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