After winning the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts it’s a good bet the turnout for Definitely Superior’s next opening will be huge. The award commends the DEFSUP gang for their hard work over the years and for hosting some of the greatest shows in the region, certainly worthy of not only provincial, but of national attention.
The three great shows to kick off DEFSUP’s new found stride and confidence ($50,000.00 sure helps), will be opening this Friday, July 26. Featured are: Patrick Doyle, Alice Massaro, and a film documentary, JR-Women are Heroes. For this article the focus is Patrick Doyle’s work. The other two shows will be reviewed at a later date.
Doyle has been involved in the Thunder Bay art scene for many years, born into this world surrounded by artistic influences. Susan Ross was his aunt. Ross’s work has been collected internationally. Ross had influence on Norval Morrisseau’s work and Ross showed with Frederick Varley. Doyle’s great uncle was Robert Flaherty who influenced documentary film internationally with his innovative, Nanook of the North, one of the first documentaries to introduce Inuit culture to the world.
Doyle recalls his meetings with them regularly as a child, watching Ross paint, surrounded by piles of work in various stages of progress that Ross had in her makeshift studio. She would often give advice to Doyle in his early years. Flaherty was a regular visitor to Doyle’s family home and Patrick recalls handling Inuit art that Flaherty had collected in his travels. Because these great artists were family, Doyle is calmly laconical in his description of his encounters with them. It may be to avoid the appearance of name-dropping.
He certainly doesn’t need to. Doyle’s work has it’s own commanding authority of individual style and a strength that comes from the power of the images. His work is also very beautiful and has been collected by many. He’s been painting for thirty years now having first studied at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, and in an independent studies program in Italy.
He’s spent a good deal of time learning to create his own style, expressed primarily in oil paint. He’s very grateful to the Ontario Art Council for the Northern Arts Grants that have helped support him in the last few years. The grants have allowed him to focus nearly exclusively on his creations. That breathing room had some influence, which can be seen at this show, a show with a great deal of cohesiveness and originality in each piece. “I feel that I’ve come into my own. I’m not trying to imitate anyone else’s art. I’m doing what is from myself.”
Doyle is often asked why he stays in Thunder Bay. He replies, “I love Thunder Bay for a lot of reasons, but to make it as an artist you also have to be someone else.” That “someone else” is someone in love with the region, which he refuses to leave.
Doyle calls his work “Abstracted Representation,” meaning he’s created work that is inevitably flat to the picture plane, without perspective, yet makes reference to actual objects. The imagery of his works are closer to Rauschenberg’s than Salvador Dali’s surrealism; containing a few more references for the viewer to look for and find meaning in should they choose to do so.
“I like to tell a story through paint,” says Doyle. “I’m inspired to paint what happens to me in my life as a reflection of myself. And I’m not big on explaining my art. It is for the viewer to interpret what they want to get from it.”
Doyle works on six to eight pieces at a time, depending on space and time allowed. “I feel they have a consistency when I work on them together,” he says. His love for colour certainly makes a statement on its own. The shapes and forms he chooses have a good degree of repetition with variation to allow each work to be original.
Richard Asham, a friend of Doyles, describes the narrative side of Doyle’s work in an essay that will appear in the show. The essay is titled, Synesthesia: The Sound of Colour. Synesthesia is a condition where different sensations might cross each other at the same time, and some people claim sounds produce colour.
Whether Doyle has this condition or not, his work certainly claims the authority of an artist with a unique vision worth checking out, worth being inspired by, and worth collecting. Doyle’s show runs till August 24.