Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Derbouka and Thorkelsson
Chronicle Journal, Dec. 2007

In the main gallery till January 20 is Robert Derbouka’s show EX-centric. He will be talking about his work on January 17 at 7:30pm at the gallery, and I strongly encourage you to go. Also showing is Ione Thorkelsson’s show entitled Narratives.

Often a gallery can take on the look of a museum and then some. Thorkelsson’s work would be more appropriate in a museum if the fossilized creatures in the gallery were real. The unsettling glass castings resonate with otherworldliness akin to a discovery of an alien species or as dramatic evidence that new age fantasies were not fantasy after all: that this is proof of the existence of near human creatures who could fly in times before recorded history, before the fall of some Eden-like state. Myth, metaphor, pseudoscience, and craft intermingle to make for a wonderful exhibit where the mind races to make sense of the translucent hybrid skeletal structures that are poetic inferences to imaginative allegories of humans in some superior state or as decaying remnants of some failed species.

Years ago, with encouragement from Glenn Allison (the TBAG’s curator) when he worked at the Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Ione began working with cast glass. Ione ran her own glassblowing studio for twenty years. She has had a few major solo shows over the years.

Robert Derbouka’s takes naïve art to the extreme. Eccentric, esoteric, ridiculous and dazzling, the dedication or addiction to sculpt and paint works of such depth of meaning and brilliant humour can only come from a passionate soul who loves life and all of our human foibles. The works never seem to complete a single thought; rather, they catapult ideas back and forth across the room creating a playground-like environment where the work screams as from one eccentric expressive genius.

Bruce Hyer (local MP) pulled me away from another function to praise the work and point out his favourite pieces. He restated one of my first thoughts when I saw the work through the galleries glass doors; that Derbouka’s work needed to be somewhere other than a gallery. The sculpted works had the appearance of being warehoused before their shipment to take prominent and permanent residence in local institutions. The totem pole celebrating music is an inspiring work for anyone to see, and could easily become a favourite work of art for the city if purchased for the Community Auditorium.

I couldn’t decide on a favourite piece to write about as I found that describing one piece wouldn’t work as an example of the whole. There is so much intelligent exploratory and imaginative strength that the works prohibit me from finding an underlying theme. There are dozens of themes working here, and the more you look the more you will find. In Derbouka’s case, this is a wonderful thing.

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