Galerie Donald Browne in the Belgo Building is showing John Francis’ broken porcelain – serene white tiles with the tension of tiny cracks where the artist has carefully, and not so carefully, broken the pieces. The ceramic, a common material, has been re-worked in the tradition of mosaics. Although we recognize the wall covering of public washrooms, the white tiles now have a dual resonance: they are alluringly lovely, and yet…. A feeling of risk greets the viewer on entering the gallery: a broken sink and toilet lie on the floor. There is a sense of abandonment; possibly of vandalism. But there is also a sense of beauty in these ‘installations’ ($4,500 each). The ‘found objects’ are, in a way, destroyed, then reconstructed. Their ‘new’ geometry offers a minimalist modernism.
The calmness of the cracks – yes, an oxymoron – comes out in the wall-hung pieces ($1,500 – $1,800, and almost sold out). There, whiter-than-white porcelain tiles with their myriad of hair-line cracks are hung in groups of 4 and 6. Hung horizontally in a row, they are beautiful. One should buy more than one!
Also in at Donald Browne is the artist Valerie Kolakis. You move towards the window to admire her ‘lace curtains’ with their fine patterning. Then you stop. The work was created with Vaseline. The ‘curtains’ will disappear after the show. There is not even a photo document à la Christo or the Starn brothers (Met Museum ‘Big Bambu’ roof installation, for example). Kolakis has created similar installations in China, Basle, Ireland and Berlin.
At the gallery, artist CHARLES STANKIEVICH has an exploding career. Literally. He has exploded rockets throughout the world (12 countries). He videos the explosion and puts it to rock and roll music. Showing at the gallery are circular pads from which the rockets were launched. Each has a little round hole in the middle. They are perfect – except for the marring and scarring caused by the rocket take off. A little rust adds to their mood.
Artist PAUL BUREAU is a regular at Donald’s gallery. His thickly-painted works come in all sizes – great for all collections. Indeed, some works are sculptures; a small size has so much paint piled on you want to reach out and feel the colour, and the lumps and bumps.