States of Matter by Pearl Van Geest

Artist Reception is February 25th from 3:00pm-5:00pm, show is on until February 25th.

Hours are Monday - Friday, 3pm - 5pm* until February 25th.
*Closed: January 27th, February 20th and 22nd.

Colour and expressive line feature in my work. I generally work in series, developing a concept visually until the idea no longer compels me. In the making, I like to create a tension between open experimental mark-making and a refined deliberate responses to what was laid down, gradually becoming more responsive to the canvas. Much of my work is in one way or another inspired by prolonged observation of the natural world –colours and colour relationships, patterns and compositional structure, as well as textures and forms.
I have been in my studio in the Trafalgar Building in downtown Guelph since 1997. During that time I have exhibited my work in solo and group shows across Canada. I have also developed interactive exhibitions where people can become involved in the creation of artworks, including Kiss Paintings whereby kiss marks are imprinted onto a canvas or topographical map before I return to my studio to paint in response to the pattern and design made by these marks.
My work is part of the Canada Art Council’s Art Bank collection, and is in other private and corporate collections. I was the City of Guelph’s inaugural Artist in Residence, and together with participants, created an artwork that is on permanent display in the City of Guelph.

In States of Matter, the paintings, from three bodies of work, are connected by a desire to express an embodied and sensual connection with the natural world - through gesture, colour and composition.

The bilaterally symmetrical paintings draw on the experience of floating on the surface of certain rivers and lakes, paddling along on days when the water’s surface is like a mirror, and one is immersed in sensation – the vibrations of light, colour, movement, sound and other frequencies - while being at the same time, taken to otherworldly spaces and ways of being. The bisymmetrical compositions resonate with structures and openings in our own bodies, and that of other creatures real or imagined. A surrealistic space is opened up, much as the philosopher Elizabeth Grosz maintains that art is a way of framing the chaos of nature while at the same time opening us up to that very chaos.

This idea of framing and opening up to chaos continues in the more abstracted, Marina at Night and Through the Night Garden. Paint is layered, scraped away and more marks are laid on top to create a sense of shifting space and painting incidences that hopefully can be reconstituted and reassembled with each viewing.

The Magician comes from the series, Caught in the Act, paintings inspired by the gestural actions of modernist painting and a connection with the drama (and pathos) of theatre and performance. The “action” is set against deep black areas with shapes that suggest openings through which the action takes place. A stage is referenced through the sweep of curtain-like gestures framing the action. The large gestures are meant to give the painting a feeling of openness to continued manipulation and also to interpretation - more process than finality. I like to play with visual puns - and while very serious on one hand, I also include an awkward sense of humour in these paintings – some more than others.

Finally, the small cold wax on wood paintings (Portals) play with colour theory – the vibrational and haptic quality of colour, and make sidelong references to theories of optics and light in physics.

Instagram: @pearlvangeest


Pearl Van Geest is Guelph-based artist, writer and arts educator, practicing since graduating from OCAD in 1996. She also holds a BSc, MFA and BEd. She has exhibited her work across Canada, and has work in collections in the United States and Europe. Her work has been supported through Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council grants and is part of the national Art Bank collection. She was short-listed for the RBC Painting prize in 2003, was a resident at the Banff Centre in 2010 and 2014, and was the recipient of the Canadian Art Foundation’s Art Writing Prize in 2015. Van Geest was the City of Guelph’s inaugural Artist in Residence in 2014, and the collaborative work created from that residency (now part of the City of Guelph’s art collection) is installed at the West End Community Centre. She maintains an active studio practice out of the Trafalgar Building in downtown Guelph.

Views of the show

Pearl van geest

1 comment

Pat Eaves

Pat Eaves

Love your work, Pearl, especially the large gestural paintings.

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