Thursday, 23 January 2014

Accosting the Ordinary: Elizabeth Buset at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery

Elizabeth Buset’s four large realist paintings in Gallery two for a show titled, Accosting the Ordinary, are immediate hits. Most everyone can appreciate the incredible amount of time spent on each piece and most everyone likes paintings of representational objects.
     However, unlike a still life or a typical floral, Buset chooses subjects and isolates them to make a philosophical statement. With limited referents the paintings work to inhibit subjectivity (your opinion) to direct you more easily to their philosophical subject. If not, you may at least feel a sense of unease.
     Buset completed her dissertation for an MFA last year at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, having received an Ambassadorial scholarship and studying under the guidance of a controversial Finnish artist, Teemu Maki, famous for killing a cat and then masturbating on it in a gallery in Helsinki.
     Anywaaaaaay, Buset got her HBFA and a teaching degree at Lakehead University. As well as being an artist, Buset supply teaches and visits schools with the Learning Through the Arts program.
     Regarding her paintings, “It’s a huge physical process,” states Buset. “Some of the paintings take me over 700 hours to do. When you’re using a brush that’s just over a millimeter wide, it takes a while.” She admits she doesn’t enjoy the process so much, but loves when comes together.
     And the works are very impressive. The attention to detail, composition, colour, and ultimately the underlying reason behind such attention make for real eye-grabbers. This kind of realistic approach waxed and waned over the centuries. The Dutch golden age of painting, the pop-art movement in the 1960s (Audrey Flack and others) and the current Hyper Realism movement in England are all influences on Buset’s work.
         The canvas oil paintings were completed in Finland and shipped here. Each depicts a singular object or theme, or dog on a white background. Buset explains that the large scale helps people to reexamine the ordinary, and that the works are meant to find meaning in the mundane and pose questions about the role of consumer society in our every day lives.
     The work called, Paint Fan, contains 960 distinct colours. Buset explains that the painting was inspired by stories of people who bring paint swatches to galleries in order to find artwork to match their furniture.
     “It’s about the commercialization of art and looking at art as décor and its aesthetic beauty as opposed to a form of philosophy.”
     Buset likes that people will connect to the work, and think upon it. Knowing that the paintings take a great deal of time, she points out, causes people to reflect more on the work. So although the technique can become the subject, Buset also believes that all art is inherently political. Buset quotes the mysterious communist playwright, Bertolt Brecht, “Art is not a mirror to reflect society, but a hammer to reshape it.”
     Although ambitious, Buset is still on an exploratory learning curve; eagerly looking to see if the time and thought she puts into her paintings has an effect and if it’s all worth it. So, although she doesn’t expect to reshape society in any dramatic way, she does believe, more realistically, “You only need an audience of one.”
     Elizabeth Buset will have a solo show in 2015 at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Buset is working to exhibit locally and internationally. 

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