18th Mar 2022 - 16th Apr 2022

International/National/Regional-abstract expressionist paintings

Gala Opening Reception-Friday Mar 18+Saturday Mar 19 @ 7pm-10pm

Scratch The Surface: Internationally known regional artist Patrick Doyle from Thunder Bay based in Northwestern Ontario creates large scale abstract expressionist oil paintings that typically presents the world from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.

Doyle: I am interested in archetypes. I feel they speak of the human condition in the landscape and I displace my imagery a little from direct narrative and closer to symbolic representations that do not belong to any specific pictorial convention. I strive to arrive at something that is primal, or primeval. The imitations of human, animal and landscape elements in contexts of my work are intimately related to this rugged landscape I live in. Personal concerns and questions seem to surface as direct considerations of identity and diversity and the contemplation of the interface of wilderness and civilization.

Archetype: The concept of an archetype appears in areas relating to behavior, historical psychology, and literary analysis. an archetype can be: a statement, pattern of behavior, prototype, ‘first form’, or the main model that other statements, patterns of behavior, and objects copy, emulate, or ‘merge’ into. Wikipedia.

Doyle is an active and well recognized artist, not only in the region but has shown extensively throughout Canada and Internationally, known for his powerful, vibrant and inventive expressionistic visual art works. Doyle is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art, and Independent Studies Program, Florence, Italy 1987. Honors Standing. A recipient of numerous grants/awards including the Ontario Arts Council and international residencies. Institutional and private collections include: Canada, USA, Spain, Australia. Join us for the Gala Opening Reception featuring Art-Music and coinciding show with emergent artist Damen Chase Scott, catered and cool winter refreshments, artist talks and more! Gallery 1. Show closes April 16.


Scratch The Surface: New paintings by Patrick Doyle

In “Scratch the Surface,” the triptych that lends its name to Patrick Doyle’s masterful solo show at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery, each painting glows red and orange, as though lit from within by the setting sun. In their swirl of figures and colour — a woman, cross-legged, rocking a child; a paddler piloting a canoe; cobalt blues and acidic greens reminiscent of the northern lights — the paintings are united by the presence of three rectangular orange slabs. They might be people, or they might be doorways, portals to other worlds. Or (and this is the likeliest possibility) they might be both.

Doyle has been a long-time fixture of Northwestern Ontario’s fine arts scene, and this exhibition — comprising nearly 30 large-scale oil paintings — is firmly rooted in the local landscape, both its terrain and its history. Many of the works were painted outside. Some, like “Sawyer Bay Daydream,” “Shoreline Dreams,” or “Nature’s Veil,” draw more obviously on the beauty and rugged power of the land Doyle calls home. But natural themes — flora and fauna, waterfalls and topography, boats and rivers — permeate.

The majority of works in the show are recent, created during the social isolation of the pandemic. Perhaps not surprisingly, the individual works seem to be engaged in conversation with one another, with the viewer as an eavesdropper. This conceit makes even more sense when you consider that they were created synchronously: Doyle paints in layers, laying down pigment on one canvas and then turning to another, and another. The result is a body of work that is both unified and distinct: these paintings are part of the same conversation, even if they don’t always agree.

There are big feelings here: bold, dark colours and lots of them; canvases three and four feet across; densely populated and layered with shape and image; arranged and lit (by Doyle himself) in trios and quartets that stand taller than the viewer. As a whole, these aren’t easy paintings. One might guess that they reflect the chaos and turmoil, the collective and personal losses of these pandemic years.

But while the initial impression of this series tends toward chaos, Doyle’s eye and sense of composition create a coherent (if not necessarily easy; just like climbing to the top of the artist’s beloved Sleeping Giant or Mount McKay isn’t easy) path through a challenging series of work. The space itself — Definitely Superior Art Gallery’s new location, with its ample light and high ceilings — lends itself beautifully to the endeavour.

These are paintings meant to be engaged with, individually and collectively. Up close, Doyle’s works reward the careful viewer: heavily populated and textured, they unfold into complex narratives that skew, in turns, towards the joyful and the harrowing, urban and natural, serene and fraught. Scratch the surface, as the show’s name suggests, and they offer unending opportunities for discovery. As a collection, the paintings seem to converse with each other, as though those person-portals lead invisibly from one work to another in a hidden ecosystem, telling a larger story, if only we’ll pause to listen.

“I can’t, I don’t want to explain why I’m drawn to the colour red,” says Doyle. “What I do know is that it gets the job done.” That colour, along with orange, black, and cobalt blue dominate, and the initial impression is very nearly overwhelming. In the hands of a less skilled artist, the almost relentless adherence to this palette would flatten the collection, make it seem self-indulgent. In this case, however, the consistency and the drama work to create a powerful effect: the artist takes us to the limits of our sensory boundaries, but provides maps and handholds, portals and legends, to guide us through, if we will take them.

Patrick Doyle’s paintings invite us to stop, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves — as we have had to remind ourselves so often during these pandemic years — to slow down, to look carefully at what’s around us, and to search for beauty, and narrative, in the midst of chaos.

–Susan Goldberg: February 2022