Claude Tousignant and Shayne Dark
Where: Winchester Galleries Humboldt Valley
When: Opens Saturday, 2 to 4 p.m.
Five brilliantly coloured steel structures stand in the middle of the Winchester Galleries Humboldt Valley. The steel rods are nest-like, but defy nature, rising in vertical forms of electric yellow and candy red.
It's all about colour at the gallery, where Shayne Dark's sculptures complement the circular diptychs created by senior artist Claude Tousignant about 40 years ago.
"We thought they would make a good marriage," said gallerist Elizabeth Levinson of pairing the younger artist, new to B.C. audiences, with a pioneer of colour. "Colourful, passionate and intellectually stimulating. It is arguably the most fabulous and stimulating exhibition we've had at our Humboldt Valley location."
Dark is relatively new to a career in the arts, compared with Tousignant, who has more than 50 years in the biz. But having just celebrated his 60th birthday in Louisiana, where the Masur Museum of Art is hosting a show of his work, the Kingston, Ont.-based artist isn't quite a young up-and-comer.
Dark always worked in art - his first job was as a framer and he later designed window displays. But it was only about 20 years ago that his career took off enough to focus on it full-time. Since then, he has seen enough success and commissions to expand to two studios and hire three studio assistants.
He says it's a matter of hard work. "I've never met anyone who's a genius - I've only met people who really work hard at a position," he said. As an artist, he considers himself a cultural worker.
His sculptures often take natural forms, like ironwood branches that wash up on shore, and are transformed into something otherworldly. They sit in galleries such as Calgary's Glenbow Museum and Toronto's Edward Day Gallery, as well as perch in trees and climb high next to buildings - like the more than 100-foot-tall piece he is working on, for the Tableau Condos in Toronto.
The forms, he said, are a function of his environment. "I think where you live - it doesn't matter where on the planet - I think where you live really influences your work," Dark said.
In the country outside Kingston, Ont., he said, he gets a lot of inspiration from walking the dog in the woods and sitting by the lake.
"I've been using nature as my reference and these particular pieces, I see them as being very minimal and yet chaotic. My work references trees, bushes, branches and [I'm] then just taking them to a hopefully relevant, contemporary way of looking at things," he said.
His colour inspiration came from an entirely different setting. While designing sets in New York City, he found himself in a room filled with specialty paints at the David Letterman Theatre.
The colours were totally saturated, but flat, so the light wouldn't bounce into the audience's eyes. He'd never seen paints like that in any art store and he began using them in his work.
"Colour is one of the easiest things to enjoy - all you have to see is something red and you're able to get an immediate feeling from it," he said. "You don't have to have an art background to appreciate it."
Among his direct influences, he named 20th-century British sculptors Richard Long, Richard Deacon and Anish Kapoor. But he said he is an admirer of Tousignant's work and considered himself fortunate to be showing alongside an artist of that calibre.
It will be the second time his work is shown with Tou-signant's (the first was in Montreal), but the first time that it's not a larger group show.
"They're different of course," he said of his work, in comparison with Tousig-nant's. "But I think they complement one another." email@example.com
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