Monday, April 12, 2010

Ivan Unwin Showing at Gallery ArtPlus in Belleville.

One of the pleasures of producing an artblog is in being able to meet the kind of nice people I met the other evening in Gallery ArtPlus in Belleville, Ontario. Dianne Lee, the gallery Administrator sent me an invitation to drop into the gallery to meet Ivan Unwin at his showing and to hear him give a talk on his works and of his role as an artist in society.

The Gallery is an intimate and inviting place, and a perfect setting to present the works of this new artist in our country.

Ivan's dramatic works took me by surprise. Ivan is an English artist who emigrated to Canada 4 years ago. His background was in graphic video arts and he returned to painting about 6 years ago. His media is acrylics and he applies them more as a watercolourist then an oil painter.

Ivan's showing included works from his time in the lochs and highlands of Scotland and a collection of his more recent Canadian paintings.

It was intriquing to follow Ivan's changing style. His works are strongly influenced by English Romanticism and his paintings for the most part, are done with a tightly limited palette. This allows him to create dramatic works which are heavy on mood and atmospherics.

His move to Canada, has resulted in him embracing Canadian wildlife and natural settings, and several of his large works were set in the area around his home in Warkworth.

Ivan isn't afraid to embrace political issues. One of his works in the show features Prime Minister Stephen Harper wearing a dunce cap, and another has a manure spreader flinging human septic fertilizer onto a farmer's field.

Speaking personally I found the horizontal and vertical compression of his subject matter most interesting. In one of his works, his story is played out on the bottom 1/10th of the canvas beneath a big sky. Several of his works are cut into separate vertical panels.

Be sure to note his name, for here is a painter who is rapidly making a name for himself.

Ivan writes in his bio:

"After completing the English Art education I had a collection of my atmospheric sculpture based performance art / film work released via the Manchester, England, Factory Records / IKON Film label. Titled ~ Flickering Shadows, a well reviewed and acclaimed body of work that opened further funding and many European exhibitions. It also put me in contact with producers of the newly re-invented music video. Consequently for over 10 years I had worked in London UK as an art director for many music artists Oasis, Cold Play, Pink Floyd to name but a few, as well as working for many international corporations designing and building the sets for TV Advertising.

The desire to produce my own work was again awoken after the purchase of a small cabin in Scotland, located near the west coast in a remote ancient oak forest. That midge infested rain soaked atmosphere inspired new painted work, a medium that I had not worked with since art school. After the years of creating work at the edge of film and performance art, there is an irony that painting - landscape / nature, is now for me the new avant guarde, with a central intrinsic question of pure composition, and of colour. I had a painting from this period shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2005.

With a pin a map and the internet we moved to Warkworth Ontario in 2006. I am now starting to tackle new atmospheres with local situations, and have a new collection under the title “do least harm” to be premiered in spring 2010 at the Artplus Gallery in Belleville, this being my 1st one man show in Canada.

Many of my works are pure landscape or nature studies but this cannot be detached from a life touched by the anarchic late 70s living in England, music has, and always will be an influence, so also included in this collection are a set of political / environmental activist works, with human rights land abuse as subject"

You are invited to click here to check out Ivan's work in the Gallery ArtPlus website


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. The comment which was removed was a spam message.

  3. My name is Michael Norris-Elye and I
    discovered Ivan's works at the Snap Dragon Gallery in Ottawa in 2010. I purchased a beautiful
    piece of a Rooster on a bale of hay. It's so well
    done that it looks as if you could take a strand of hay off the piece.
    I'm very impressed with his credentials.


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