Painting collage brightens space at Parksville’s MAC

Donna Matilla and Tony Martin fill the room with vibrant colours in new exhibit

A handful of new shows had their opening at the McMillan Arts Centre on Oct. 19.

Sharing a room in the front gallery of the MAC are the works of Donna Matilla and Tony Martin.

Though they have their differences, both unite to brighten the space at the gallery, and will be sticking around until Dec. 1.

Matilla’s work is acrylic on panel, with architecturally-inspired pieces verging on the abstract.

The imagery in her paintings, strongly reminiscent of buildings and especially houses, originate from wanderings around residential areas and urban streets.

“My interest is using an image, selecting shapes, lines and colours and reinventing and painting this new composition on a flat surface; in fact, a classic definition of a painting,” said Matilla in her artist statement.

READ MORE: MAC’s summer exhibit draws on internationally acclaimed local talent

“My work moves through new phases as I find something else more appealing to my personal iconography. If you don’t like this work, wait and see what other direction it could take.”

The series of paintings employ a mix of block colours and swirling textures.

There is something hyper-modern, yet familiar and nostalgic to the pieces. The paintings simultaneously bring to mind boxy modern homes and colourful seaside fishing village dwellings.

The pieces also seem to be strategically placed so that they develop in texture as one moves through the exhibit from left to right.

The leftmost pieces are almost entirely block colour with small but potent segments of textured paint. Further to the right, the use of texture develops and colours soften into each other, no longer drawing as many stark lines.

Tony Martin’s brightly coloured canvases are mixed media, mostly a striking mix of watercolour and collage.

In addition to the paint, his images use tissue, sheet music, coloured paper, magazine cutouts and even torn up tax forms. The collages pieces are meticulously placed, and the inherent imperfections of the medium lend a whimsical feel.

Most of the pieces deal with seascapes and vessels.

Many on display are diptychs (two paintings side by side), with the same scene done twice: once in watercolour, and once in collage.

READ MORE: Artists explore light at MAC in Parksville

Martin lists his influences as being the local environment and travel documentation.

“I turned to the craft of collage a few years ago as an encouragement to abstract and simplify my imagery. As I progressed with this craft I occasionally replicated the image using watercolour,” said Matilla in her artist statement.

“I find this whole process very enjoyable.”

Viewers will see familiar scenes, in such pieces as Nanaimo Fog and Industrial Nanaimo, as well as one depicting Newcastle Island.

The imagery is simple, as per Martin’s stated goal, and it lends whimsy to the landscapes, building a brighter, more beautiful world made from pieces of our own.

The adaptation from watercolour to collage takes the image from the ethereal and dreamlike into one that is sharper, with more texture, and well-defined edges.

The MAC is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the week except Monday.

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