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Visual arts review: Red and Ascension at Studio 21

A double-header of paintings and drawings offers two times the loveliness.

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Charley Young, "Striations."
  • Charley Young, "Striations."

Marilyn McAvoy, Red
Charley Young, Ascension
Studio 21 Fine Art, 1273 Hollis Street
To June 6

The latest exhibition at Studio 21 is a double header: Red by Marilyn McAvoy and Ascension by Charley Young.

Known for her floral paintings that blend naturalism, texture and dreamlike painterly abstractions, McAvoy's latest body of work takes a turn towards the figurative. Her portraits of women at various ages feature models who are perfectly posed, with dramatic and colourful lighting techniques that give the effect that you are looking at someone through stained glass or underwater. Inspired by the shadows and light at play behind the scenes and backstage at music venues (McAvoy has spent much of her life surrounded by live music), her figures are seated in cozier settings, but are painted and illuminated with the reverence of rock stars, mysterious women comfortable behind the scenes as well as on centre stage.

Juxtaposing McAvoy's bold canvases, we find Charley Young's greyscale mountainscapes. Drawn on drafting film, the dark graphite and bright whites of her materials shine against the dove grey, translucent material. Her scenes are fragmented, just pieces of snowy mountain side floating in the ether, small pockets made of rock. Young has often worked with frottage—the process of pressing paper against a rough surface and rubbing drawing material across it to reveal the texture underneath—in the past, and her highly detailed drawings speak to her understanding of the materiality of the rock face. We seem to be able to feel every crevice, hill and peak. Young's drawings feel like a love letter to the mountains, a chilly escape as summer begins to creep into the city.

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