Visitors to the Kelowna Art Gallery may have difficulty believing that the incredibly life-like paintings in a new exhibition are not photographs. Many of the paintings by Kelowna-based artist John Hall feature ordinary objects painted in extraordinary detail—a doughnut with its chocolate glaze soft and dripping; a drying rack stacked with dishes sitting on a counter; strands of brightly coloured licorice and other assorted candies displayed on a reflective platter.
The 70 works in this solo show comprise a remarkable window into the artist’s production, with the most recent piece having been completed only weeks before the exhibition opened. The show is hung chronologically and reveals the shift of Hall’s attention over the years, as his richly orchestrated and constructed still-lifes have evolved in fascinating ways.
In the early 1960s Hall studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, then at the Instituto Allende, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in 1966. He spent a year painting in New York in 1979/80, the same time that he was given a touring solo show by the National Gallery of Canada.
In the 1980s Hall created his Tourist Series and his Toys series, followed by his famous Still-Life Portrait series, which he began in 1984 and is still ongoing. Woven in between all these series were his Mexican-themed paintings, done during his annual six-month stays there between 1988 and 1999.
In the 1990s Hall began to exploit the information and results possible by using digital photography and Adobe Photoshop™. With this shift, his work was no longer about exactly what his eyes saw, but what he could achieve with these new processes, as they fed into his work.
Since moving to Kelowna in 1999 Hall has completed several series of work, all of still-life subjects, that have included donuts, candies, groups of small stones, tea cups, coffee mugs and a stack of CDs. His most recent works have focused on fruits and vegetables.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 144-page, full-colour book, published by Black Dog Publishing in the UK. It includes colour reproductions of all of the works in the show and also texts by curator of the Kelowna Art Gallery, Liz Wylie and by Calgary-based artist Alexandra Haeseker, a long-time collaborator and colleague of Hall’s.
John Hall: Travelling Light: A 45-year survey of paintings, will be on view until July 10 at the Kelowna Art Gallery. Hall will present an illustrated talk on Thursday, June 23, 7 p.m. at the gallery. The Kelowna Art Gallery would like to acknowledge the support of sponsors PACART and the Loch Gallery.
After its Kelowna run the show will travel to the Nickle Galleries, University of Calgary, in January of 2017.
The Kelowna Art Gallery is located at 1315 Water St. For more information visit www.kelownaartgallery.com or call 250-762-2226.