On the Horizon: Feathers & Flowers

Published Feb 23 2017

New works by Alex Livingston & Katie Belcher are the subject of the next exhibition at Studio 21, running from March 3rd to 29th.

The exhibition includes new floral digital paintings by established Halifax artist and NSCAD painting professor Alex Livingston and a three component show of charcoal drawings, photography and a large energetic wall drawing done on site by emerging Nova Scotia-based artist and curator Katie Belcher. Belcher will be in the gallery for several days starting Sunday, February 26, developing the wall drawing.

Alex Livingston’s new series FLOWERS combines painterly still life with other-worldly, digital flora. The result creates an unusual visual experience. He bases this exploration on themes from his earlier paintings: flower and botanical motifs; dualities of representation and abstraction, natural and human made, “naturalia” and artificialia”; and reference to specific art historical sources and styles.

“I continue to expand upon existing themes in my painting and drawing while exploring how computer technology can interface with painting. Using electronic drawing tablets and computer software, I play with new digital drawing tools and brushes experimenting with innovative ways to explore the visual language of painting through digital expression,” says the artist.

Born in Kingston, Ontario, Alex Livingston received a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and an MA Fine Arts from the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, England.  In 2005, Livingston began a shift from his 25 year long engagement with oil on canvas painting toward digital explorations of the medium — partly due to environmental sensitivities to paint solvents, and partly due to the allure of new frontiers for image making. His work is now entirely computer-based digital output.  Livingston has exhibited his paintings in many solo and group exhibitions in public and commercial galleries across Canada and internationally in England, Scotland, Germany, South Korea, China and the United States. His work is in numerous private, corporate and public collections. Livingston is a Professor in Painting at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD University).

Katie Belcher exhibits a selection of work that is part of her ongoing project, Faisan, in which her drawings rely on the memory of plucking a bird for the first time. Through gestural charcoal and erasure marks, Belcher rehearses and exaggerates her own lack of expertise in executing this once common culinary process. Faisan as a project aims to merge the process (the doing—”en faisant”) with the subject (the pheasant—”faisan”).

Belcher’s newest works on paper are accompanied by photographs of plucked feathers, and an energetic drawing that will be done on site, covering an entire wall. All of these reference the novel “The Belly of Paris” by Emile Zola. In that tale, a basket of feathers provides a home and shelter for two of the characters.

“My large-scale charcoal drawings make significant use of erasure and layering. Using my own experience, found objects, and museum specimens as a starting point, I use gestural and naturalistic drawing approaches to develop an abstracted composition. Having come of age in a “Knowledge Economy” I question my own lack of everyday knowledge—specifically agricultural, building, and domestic. My drawing practice stems from my examination of these unfamiliar spaces, objects, species, and processes,” says the  artist.

Katie Belcher is a visual artist based in Halifax, where she completed a BFA at NSCAD in 2007. Belcher’s drawings have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Solo exhibitions include En faisant (Halifax 2015) and In time’s furrows (Belfast 2013). She received numerous grants, and attended residencies in Canada and Europe—notably the Canada Council for the Arts studio at the Cité Internationale des arts (Paris 2012). Katie is the Director of Eyelevel Gallery (Halifax), is one of four managing artists for HERMES artist’s co-operative gallery, is the President of the Association of Artist-Run Centres from the Atlantic and sits on the board of The Artist Run Centres and Collectives Conference/ La Conférence des collectifs et des centres d’artistes autogérés (ARCA).

Studio 21