Saturday, March 13, 2004

Jay Isaac at Greener Pastures - National Post Mar. 6/04

The new beautiful in painting these days is dazzlingly ugly. Everything that one could describe as soft on the eyes -- things like logical composition, depth of field, colour harmony -- are so out. I'm thinking of the very hot paintings of Jay Isaac's over at Greener Pastures that have been bewitching every artist I've met over the past few days who has been by the gallery to see the eight new paintings and one sculpture collectively titled Maritime Frazetta.

Isaac, 28, has found an unlikely synergy between the fantasy art of Frank Frazetta (whose art is most commonly found in sci-fi comic books or airbrushed on the sides of vans), and, uh, Maritime scenery, things like scooners moored at a dock with seagulls gliding around clouds. But the clashing of the two opposing sources is post-apocalyptic. Boats appear to be slowly melting into cesspools of mirky water, overgrown vines, and darkened skies. The colours are a toxic range of blacks, nuclear-fallout greens, and paste-y mauves blended on the canvas like four-tone eyeshadow.

Isaac is what is sometimes called the artist's artist -- which is an artist whom other artists look to in terms of measuring their own originality and daringness for going the distance. In Isaac's case it is his commitment to the New Age beat, of which I've been told, he doesn't intend as an ironic joke. That alone carries it's own amount of shock and awe. - Catherine Osborne

Jay Isaac's Maritime Frazetta runs until Mar 27, 2004 at Greener Pastures 1188 Queen Street Wed-Sat noon-6pm