Seen through Gordon Young’s eyes, city life is molten, mysterious. The mad dash of commuting and hanging out in cafés is distilled into edgy images of waiting, smoking, checking messages. Young’s quirky compositions in oil suggest he has taken scissors to perfectly ordinary shots of people doing banal things. The effect is anything but ordinary, or banal.
Young is one of the up and coming talents at Galerie de Bellefeuille in Westmount. His recent exhibition offered an impressive body of work, especially considering this is his first solo. A native of Pointe Claire, he left Montreal in 1996, and ended up the Kootenay Art School in British Columbia. In 2004 he wisely moved back east (as westerners call it) to live and paint in Verdun. A Canadian story, except that there’s nothing woodsy or even faintly bohemian about this 42-year-olds’ vision of reality. His art is worldly, stylish, ripe for plucking by people-on-the-move.
In Wallet, a man slips a pocketbook into his open coat — or takes it out, we can’t be sure — meanwhile staring intently into the distance. The figure is slightly out of focus, but the tiny leaves on a red bush behind him are sharp, suggesting that’s where we should be looking too.
Man, NYSE shows a natty businessman sitting, legs crossed, on a cafe chair, holding a cell phone in his lap. We don’t see his head, but a well-polished shoe is cocked at an odd angle, giving the moment great tension. Chairs, Bag, Newspaper, Etc captures a suit reading the New York Times, though as the title suggests, his things and the marvellous blue and orange floor are really the subject.
When Young looks at pedestrians, his vantage point is pavement level: a thick-heeled ladies cowboy pump almost touches the pavement. A pair of brown suede zip-ups twists in an impossible posture before the rush of on-coming traffic.
Although the images bring photographs to mind, they often seem posed. A subtle, even sensuous use of paint, both texture and colour, provides impact and resonance. Sometimes the experiments are playful: in Fountain, blue-capped policemen stare off in various directions, while behind them a frothy fountain erupts with the lacy density of cake icing. Fun is an exception, though; the predominant mood is introspection, tension, as if revealing a moment of calm before a storm of bullets. The colours are solid, vibrant, charged with the same understated confidence that dominates composition.
If the splatter of red dots that hit the walls during his Galerie de Bellefeuille vernissage is any indication, Gordon Young’s entry-level prices won’t last long. Check out this exciting new talent before he heads through the roof.
Gordon Young at Galerie de Bellefeuille, 1367 Greene Ave.