The artist explores the lack of communication | Catch My Job


Lonigan Gilbert’s first visual art exhibition at the Art Gallery of St. Albert

One thing is for sure, the first solo exhibition of paintings by Aboriginal visual artist Lonigan Gilbert has left an unusual thumbprint at the Art Gallery of St. Albert.

Each canvas in infection Urban art, a cocktail of street art, graffiti and a dose of animation mixed with a touch of anger, fear and whimsy. Bold and assertive, these are politically and socially charged works, often featuring dark, ominous symbolism.

infection It is a visual narrative of Gilbert’s personal story, his anxiety and his despair. The 16 pieces were created throughout COVID during a period of forced isolation from his job at the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA). The main theme is a brutally honest assessment of our communication failures and how miscommunication increases stress.

The Edmonton-based artist doesn’t just make a pretty picture. He packs each canvas with bursts of bold often contrasting colors and seemingly unrelated images borrowed from history, literature, film, music, media, psychiatry and racist culture. Past, present and future frequently collide in a cacophony of packed details.

It is impossible to see each canvas as a whole. There are many images competing for the viewer’s attention Gilbert forces the eye to travel slowly, image by image, section by section, gradually absorbing and interpreting the symbolism.

At the gallery’s official opening on Thursday, October 13, guests marveled at the paintings

PJ Luhanga, an IT specialist in Edmonton is new to the art world but finds canvases fascinating.

“I love how the little details let me see something. It’s like a puzzle. See it where’s waldo? If something comes out of the corner of the eye, I want to see it again and again. There is no solid structure. It is a free form that allows all thoughts to flow through the moment,” says Luhanga

Alison Besecker, one of Gilbert’s former AGA colleagues, added her observation by saying, ““I find it interesting. Every time you look at it, you are drawn to a different part. You can feel the feeling coming off. Chaos is one. You can see different and pop culture references.”

Gilbert grew up in Winnipeg where his father was an established political cartoonist. As a child he took art classes at the Winnipeg Art Gallery to practice sketching and animation. His artistic skills were well recognized and in Grade 6 his principal asked him to paint a mural of a buffalo hunt in the school cafeteria.

Once able to create highly technical pieces, the artist was involved in a cycling accident that injured his hand. The accident left him unable to complete the fine detail work. Creatively refocusing his instinctive subject matter, Gilbert moved from the technical to the abstract resulting in the development of his own urban style.

Canadian fiction writer Tim F. Prudden, who may also be Gilbert’s uncle, drove from his home in Thoresby to view the art.

“He captures life in all its noise, chaos and insensitivity. These are all things we’ve talked about in the past,” Pruden said. “I see him as the next Picasso. I see a Van Gogh trying to find himself. I know him since childhood. As the months go by and the years pass, I see his vision grow stronger. It’s important to see and create these things.”

infection On display at AGSA for free on Saturday, November 12 at 19 Perron Street


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