Personal Space at Patel Brown Gallery

Fanciful patterns, dreamy interiors, and architectural motifs are all at home at Patel Brown Gallery’s exhibition Personal Space. The group exhibition, at the Patel Brown East location, showcases intricate and vivid ink drawings by Luke Painter, vibrant, surreal watercolours by Tristram Lansdowne, and muted, abstracted oil paintings by Ella Gonzales. Each work centres on the exhibition’s theme, ‘personal space’, depicting varying interior spaces in various styles and media. Nostalgic, wistful, and whimsical all at once, these works evoke a series of strong reaction in the viewer, each setting at once familiar and unfamiliar.

Installation view of Personal Space at Patel Brown Gallery, 2021

Devoid of human depiction, this exhibition uses background as its protagonist. Contemporary interiors, architectural designs, aesthetically pleasing furniture, intricately patterned textiles, and decorative objects are not simply atmospheric details, but rather the subjects of these works. The avoidance of human depiction is poignant in these very human spaces brings to mind ideas of solitude or absence, reflecting the emotions of many amidst COVID-19-era isolation. With each of these pieces, one feels as though they are inside these interiors themselves.

Ella Gonzales’ blurry, muted oil paintings are painted in thin layers on an unprimed canvas, allowing her subjects to soak through the canvas, becoming part of the material itself. Her pastel, linear interiors exist on a plane between abstraction, figuration, and architectural plans. Based on photographs and memories of previous childhood homes, she uses 3D modelling software to recreate interiors from her past on which to base her paintings. At once personal and familiar, impersonal and desolate, these scenes feel like distant memories of past lives lived.

Ella Gonzales, Reflection of a window, 2020, oil on unprimed canvas and limewood support, 24 x 20 in. (front and back)

In “Following Sinopia”, Gonzales depicts a doorway or window that opens to another room or outdoor space. The hazy color and line of this picture feels dreamlike and nostalgic, and the subtle color and shade hints at stone or concrete textures.

Ella Gonzales, Following Sinopia, 2021, oil on unprimed canvas, 24 x 20 in

Artist Luke Painter’s vibrant, intricate ink drawings contrast with Gonzales’ subtle, muted paintings. Painter’s flat, patterned surfaces and bold figurative style create complex, captivating patterns. His work is informed by real and imaginary sources, and his designs are both narrative and textile. In “Fabricland Fabricland” using strong lines, a wide array of colours, and contrasting form, he combines landscape, interior, and still life all in the same composition.

Luke Painter, Fabricland Fabricland 01, 2021, ink on paper, 33 x 24 in.

“The Solitary Summer/Winter Sunshine” depicts two books, with detailed, stylized covers. One shows a sunny sky over flowers and leaves, the other a winter landscape with deep snow and barren trees and a barn in the distance. On top of these books is a case with a snake inside it. Painter plays with contrasting tones, textures, and light when picturing these seemingly ordinary household objects. The titles and photographic covers of these two books evoke feelings of wistfulness and nostalgia, reminiscent of distant, bittersweet memories.

Luke Painter, The Solitary Summer/Winter Sunshine, 2021, ink on paper, 12 x 15 in

In keeping with Painter’s natural motifs, watercolorist Tristram Lansdowne creates bold paintings depicting spaces that are at once domestic and wild, urban and tropical.

Tristram Lansdowne, Pool at Dusk, 2020, watercolour on paper, 23½ x 42 in

Part verdant jungle, part Art Deco wallpaper, Lansdowne’s interiors combine the comforts of modern furniture with the adventure and intrigue of imaginative plant life. His sources draw from design websites, real estate listings, and product advertisements, modified in a way that produces exciting and intricate settings. His interiors are both inviting and unwelcoming, appealing and foreboding; critiquing the superficial nature of luxury real estate.

“Wet Wipe II” displays an interior scene of a stylish, comfortable armchair and footstool, set against a background of flowers and plants that seem to be both design features and living entities. While the setting is stylish and charming, it appears almost unlivable, as particles are flying everywhere and the flowers are invading the domestic space, disrupting the stillness of the room. 

Tristram Lansdowne, Wet Wipe II, watercolour on paper 25½ x 21½ in

The variety of styles in Personal Space might seem mismatched at first, but within the exhibition space, they interact with one another so harmoniously it is natural to place them together. Each artist’s unique style both stands out alone and compliments the others. This timely exhibition addresses isolation and confinement, and provides comfort to many people grappling with these feelings at this time.

Installation view of Personal Space at Patel Brown Gallery, 2021

Bronwen Cox

Images are courtesy of Patel Brown Gallery.

*Exhibition information: Personal Space / Ella Gonzales, Tristram Lansdowne, Luke Painter, April 2 – May 8, 2021, Patel Brown Gallery, 184 Munro St, Toronto. You can book an appointment for your visit.

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