March 11, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 84  

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Flawless Skin

Exhibit: Skin Tones
Artists: Allyson Glenn, Lenny Piroth-Robert, John MacDonald, Vicki Smith
Location: Michael Gibson Gallery

By Ash Wittig
Gazette Staff

Vicki Smith/2003
I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY... Vicki Smith’s oil on canvas “Tangle” is on display at the Michael Gibson Gallery’s group exhibit Skin Tones.

Whether you knew it or not, human skin is made up of almost every conceivable colour. Nothing could display this better than the art exhibit Skin Tones, which opened last Saturday.

Including the work of four different artists, Skin Tones is a collection of works that display the many facets of our largest organ. Consisting of human subjects, these paintings vary widely from artist to artist. Some of the subjects are portrayed in the nude, while some are fully clothed; most are female, but some depict men as well.

“Dresden Interior II,” an oil painting by Lenny Piroth-Robert, is of a 20-something male nonchalantly sitting in a green armchair. At first glance, there is nothing miraculous about this painting, but a closer look reveals the smaller details that make it beautiful. The detailing of light and colour give a sense of a glowing aura around the man.

Allyson Glenn’s paintings are very severe and extremely raw. A good example of this is the blunt depiction of a nude woman in “Nude Study with Still Life.” The woman’s skin is roughly painted using almost every colour on the palate. From a distance, it melds together and looks perfect; it is only from a close vantage point that the rough, seemingly careless strokes can be seen in all their colours.

John MacDonald’s “Untitled 193” is a fantastic example of painting light into a work of art. He depicts a nude woman sitting on a rock by a body of water. The front of the woman is nonexistent due to heavy shadows and the way in which her body is turned. Instead, MacDonald chooses to focus on her back, possibly the largest uninterrupted surface of skin on the body. The light source focuses on her back and he uses many shades and tones of cream to depict every facet of light as it would fall on her.

The largest collection in the exhibit is by Vicki Smith, whose paintings are all nudes. In every depiction of the human form, she chooses to have the body in an unnatural or seemingly uncomfortable position. “Tangle” is a painting of a woman who appears to be lying down on her side but, at the same time, upside down.

Smith’s paintings are the most unconventional in the collection and are sure to be the cause of many double-takes. She plays with the human form, crunching subjects into yoga-like poses, curling them into the fetal position or stretching them out in their fullest form. Her depiction of skin tone ranges from the small of one’s back to the bottom of another’s feet, employing many different shades of oranges, yellows and reds.

All four artists are successful in achieving their goal of depicting different ways of creating skin tone, showing it to be flawless from a distance, yet at the same time rough and full of colour and light.

Skin Tones is showing at the Michael Gibson Gallery at 157 Carling St., until Saturday, Mar. 27.



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