Joyce Ozier with some of her abstract panel paintings at White Rock Community Centre.

‘Panels’ show offers insight into the appeal of the abstract

Artist Joyce Ozier relates her improvisational painting approach – now on display at White Rock Community Centre – to dance and music

Joyce Ozier said she never starts a painting with a plan – just a palette.

“I basically start out with a certain decision on colour,” she said. “It kind of takes on a life of its own.”

The artist – whose show, Marked Panels. Panels. Panels, opened this week as part of the city-sponsored Art On Display program at White Rock Community Centre (15454 Russell Ave.) – says she loves painting her abstracts in an in-the-moment, improvisational way.

But it’s not just about “slapping paint on a canvas,” she said.

“I compare it to music – it’s equivalent to classical music,” she added, standing among the works, which consist of sequences of four or more six-foot-by-one-and-a-half-foot panels, not unlike the divisions found in musical composition.

Similarly her intuitive combination of bold brushwork and pastel line accents – full of rhythm, mood and movement – implies forms without specifically drawing any.

Each has it’s own equivalent of melodic statement, elaboration of theme and harmonic underpinning.

And, like music, the works have their own sense of an integral rightness and balance, while entirely subject to individual interpretation – the reactions are often as much of a surprise as the finished pieces are to Ozier herself.

“It’s about how you react – and everyone will react differently,” she said.

What’s not surprising is that OIzier’s trajectory through the arts has embraced multiple disciplines, all of which have informed her work in some way.

A graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., she possesses a master’s degree in theatrical design from UBC. Her career has included experimental theatre, teaching, building an award-winning display and design company and arts management, particularly in the field of dance.

“I love dance, although I’m not a dancer myself,” she said. “I think that’s where so much of the movement in my work comes from. When I’m painting I basically dance in front of the panels.”

The panel concept comes from a pragmatic place, she admits – while moving toward larger and larger formats, she has had to confront the impracticality of transporting a huge single canvas.

Working with a series of panels has offered a natural solution to the problem (“generally I can put six panels in my car,” she said) and has provided an additional element of flexibility to a work in progress.

“On one composition I’ll move them around and repeat the process until it feels right,” she said.  “Sometimes I’ll even turn a panel upside down. I never know what the final product will be – I find that very exciting. And every artist will tell you the same thing – the painting will tell you when it’s done.”

She finds that working with panels allows her different options in hanging each work.

“Sometimes I bolt them together;  sometimes I hang them with spaces between the panels – I find it interesting to have spaces in-between them. There’s a lot of flexibility in these pieces.”

Most of the pieces in the current exhibition are from a show first hung in Vancouver’s Zack Gallery last October, said Ozier, who was a visual arts resident at  the Banff Centre for the Arts earlier this year.

She submitted her work for the White Rock show after seeing an advertised invitation for submissions, she said.

“I was very happy to be chosen,” she said. “This is my first visit to White Rock – I understand it’s very beautiful. I’m going to have to walk around and look at it. It’s a great opportunity for me to check out the area.”

Ozier said she is hoping her work will resonate with local viewers, although she’s well aware that some viewers are uncomfortable with non-representational art.

“Without wanting to seem arrogant, I think that a lot of people are intimidated by it. It’s really just a question of how open you are.

“When you are open to the work, you will feel this energy coming from it – and everybody will feel a different energy.”

Marked Panels. Panels. Panels. continues at the Community Centre to July 17.

 

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