About Me

My photo
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
I create art to facilitate my personal evolution as both an individual and a part of the greater whole. My art creation is where I cultivate my thoughts, my focus, meditation, and perception. Art has become a personal ritual, a daily rite which leads me to study the world around me and increases my awareness of the universe.

Friday, March 21, 2008


In this photo: Ron Sombilon, Vena Campbell, and Garett Campbell-Wilson
Photo by: Ron Sombilon

An invitation to an art exhibition from a stranger brought me to the Hansen House Gallery of Art and Home D├ęcor on the night of the New Moon on March 7, 2008. I climbed the narrow stairway to the second floor through the doorway from the parking lot at the side of the converted warehouse near the rail tracks and waterfront of East Vancouver.

The Origins reception for the artist’s exhibition of new work was held between the stacks and shelves of a menagerie of ethnic artefacts in different forms and materials from around the world. It was like a global village bazaar of folk and tribal arts and crafts crowded with people in the aisles.

Garett Campbell-Wilson is an artist in his early twenties with a creative vision. The artist was clean-shaven with long dreadlocks tied back under a black headscarf. He wore a white shirt with black jacket, jeans and boots.

The Origins exhibition pieces were scattered here and there and hung from the racks in the midst of carved and painted masks, figures sculpted in wood, stone, and clay, and furniture with ebony lacquered finishes.

Two pieces titled Origins and Nubian Nights are done in a similar style. There is an inner glow to the pieces as if illuminated by the flames of ancient temple torchlight in an atmospheric haze reminiscent of the landscapes of John Constable such as Seascape Study with Rain Cloud (1824), and Rain, Steam and Speed (1844) by Joseph Mallord William Turner, both English Romantic Painters.

Muscular male and female figures take shape in the chromatic mist enveloping the forms in a chiaroscuro of light and shadow. The phantom forms acquire mass and volume with a lingering gaze of the picture frame. The absorption and reflection of light is modulated with a colour palette of bright tints blended smoothly and selectively with bold yellow red pigments and complementary colour tones and shades.

Visceral, yet humanized forms, made from the push and pull on the picture plane, take on a sculptural quality like impressions made in relief on a soft clay wall lit from above. Primal beings emerge from the deep shadow hues in the figure ground reversal of the light and dark patterns of the compositions where the background seems to squeeze the figure from the outside.

The reversal of the figure and ground shapes in the light and dark areas are easier to see at a distance, or by squinting the eyes when looking at the paintings. The ambiguous shapes are resolved by the artist’s return to the flatness of the picture surface with brush strokes and calligraphic marks like streaks of water splashed on a window and the image is seen through a pane of glass.

The Origins paintings have a shiny and smooth surface for aesthetic and practical reasons. The clear finish is a tough topcoat that adds durability and archival features to the artwork, and has a certain conceptual correlation with the glass window appearance of the image. The smooth finish and surface treatment of the artwork as a whole lends a certain aesthetic distance to the pieces by what is reflected by and mirrored on the shiny surface and what shows through in the image.

The psychological effect of the rain spattered window of the picture frame shifts from a looking through a pane of glass to the looking at a reflection of the figures in candlelight within the interior of a room.

The Origins reception filled the entrance and aisles of the Hansen House showroom. Bright eyes and nice faces in cream, mocha, and chocolate flavours. An elegant and friendly crowd milling about and gathering at the wine and cheese tables, and around the artist for digital photos.

The younger group wandered into the artist’s small studio overlooking Powell Street from the second floor at the front of the building. They chatted about the detailed anatomical drawings of the human form, the figurative sketches, and a schematic design of a futuristic space ship.

The artist’s parents, Vena & Keith, were gracious and warm hosts at the Origins opening reception. They circulated amongst the congregation of family and friends and tended to the guests with a friendly smile. The catering was courteous and efficient, and the snacks were fresh and tasty. The wine and cheese buffet was adjacent to the focus of the evening, the artist and his Origins painting.

The Black Pharaoh and Priestess in the Nubian Nights painting was a timely coincidence to the March 2008 edition of the National Geographic magazine on the newsstand. The Origins exhibition by Garett Campbell-Wilson deserves a room of it’s own for a finer appreciation of the African Royalty theme and the artist’s creative vision.

James T. Cooper
March 17, 2008