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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Songs from the Ocean’ delves into deep emotions with simple art

    “”‘Paintings and Assemblages’ work best without words.””

    The note that introduces Gavin Troy’s “”Songs from the Ocean”” painting and multimedia collection does not set great expectations. Though friendly, the photocopied, handwritten note and attached pricelist seem overly informal and the artist’s assertion that the “”wrightings”” of mystic poets Rumi, Hafiz and Kabir have influenced his work feels contrived. The signature “”with love”” and the smiley face following Troy’s non-capitalized name, however, immediately endear him to his audience. So, having sacrificed seriousness for warm-fuzzies, Troy turns the communication over to his paintings and collages themselves.

    Displayed along the walls and shelves of the Poetry Center, the wood and canvas pieces almost glow with their emphasis on warm pastels, organic geometric shapes and heavy lines that bind the disparate shapes together.

    Wedged between what look like spotlight lines my church’s youth group once called “”God-shine,”” are faceless figures who, like “”Wall-E””, manage sophisticated expressions despite obvious gaps in equipment. The pencil sketches are left to worm through the paint in certain lights, and no attempt is made to disguise the wood grains beneath the pastel smears and swirls. With minimalism and repetition on his side, Troy moves adeptly between mediums, from paint on canvas and wood to multimedia woodblock shadow boxes, impressive in their ability to crudely represent emotionally complex scenes.

    With only the occasional symbol taken too far, like the recurring fish and sometimes overtly nativity-style scenes, the entire exhibit captures a sense of elemental hope portrayed through subtle Christian imagery and uncommon unpretentiousness. One particular painting, number 11, has a road swerving up through what looks like a melted geometric village, beautiful in its imperfect repetition, and up to a great balloon of a sky. This balloon, together with the motif of flowers, moons and stars, creates a nearly nursery-like feel and, more importantly, turns its back on the notion that such sticker-style symbols have no place in the realm of fine art.

    Indeed, by using mellow colors and recognizable shapes, along with detailing that makes these works appear to glimmer, Troy evokes not just emotion and thought, but easy pleasure also.

    This successful incorporation of cliché, however, does not carry over to Troy’s titles. Upon completing the circuit of artwork around the perimeter of the library and returning to the scrawled-out name and price list, titles like “”Hold On,”” “”Flowing with Love”” and “”Passage, Into Silence”” stand out as fitting, but also detract from the remarkable series of works just viewed sans names.

    In an episode of irony, Troy’s poem-inspired and breathtaking artwork, housed for the moment in the Poetry Center, is watered down only by the words before and after it.

     

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