Winter Solace 1 is awe-inspiring

Mychael Maier never ceases to take my breath away. In Winter Solace 1, a group of local artists, including Maier, captivate audiences at first sight. With sculptures and numerous canvas paintings, Winter Solace 1 provides a much-needed retreat for weary heads.

With sensual strokes and meticulous lines, Maier’s two pieces, "Torso" and "Emergence", exude passion and a keen awareness of the male physique. Showcasing each bulging muscle and highlighting each curve, Maier captures the sexuality, strength and sweetness of the male body. Simple subjects are painted with such tedious precision, the textures leap from the canvas. The temptation to run your hands down the rippling back on "Torso" and feel each divet and curve is tremendous.

The two pieces featured are among Maier’s first paintings on canvas and are terrific complements to many of the other pieces.

Jocelyn Soubliere’s contributions are large masses of earthy tones with vivid golden hues. "Grace" has a variety of colours which blend seamlessly to create a swirling web of intrigue and it too has a desirable texture.

The abstract nature of Soubliere’s pieces are a contrast to "Dreams of Nahanni" by Ricardo Sanchez-Clague. From afar the painting looks very tumultuous, as though it is depicting a fiery explosion. Upon closer inspection, however, "Dreams of Nahani" is a splendid representation of the magical moment where daylight and night meet. With sensational oranges and liquid blues, Sanchez-Clague taps into the source of nature’s serenity and produces an invigorating creation which simultaneously causes a wave of calmness.

This diversity continues with the work of Barbara Amos, whose oil on canvas representations of modern architecture possess a look of antiquity. With soft blues and light greens, Amos adds life to the concrete skyscrapers she portrays. The life is injected into the cold and lifeless gray which sheath the towering buildings. It is an interesting mix, and the buildings and streets seemingly devoid of life are given breath by the pastel colours strewn onto them.

Also injecting life into their paintings is Elena Evanoff, who returned to produce renditions of the female figure. With flesh colours and grays, Evanoff creates representations of a universal woman. There are no heads to indicate identity, only unifying characteristics such as breasts and curvaceous stomachs and hips. The result is captivating paintings which accentuate definitive female characteristics while stimulating an ominous mood with the ambiguity of identity.

The other artists showcased in Winter Solace are: Ellen Dick, Wendy Grove, Aaron Hill, John Hoyt, and George Taylor. With a wide variety of approaches and styles Winter Solace 1 provides an excellent peek into the studios of Calgarian artists.

Winter Solace 1 runs until Dec. 31 at Art is Vital Gallery and will be followed in January by Winter Solace 2, featuring another batch of local talent.

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