Approaching similar subjects in different ways, this exhibition of Danny Singer’s large panoramas and Mike Bayne’s 4 inch x 6 inch paintings at Gallery Jones, was definitely the highlight out of the six exhibitions I viewed yesterday.
Danny Singer’s work is extremely well planned composing of photo-composites of main street in small towns on the Canadian prairies. The photographs are made in a similar fashion to Ed Ruscha’s On the Sunset Strip. Each structure in the photograph is photographed individually so that a straight on perspective is maintained throughout the whole image and side streets appear parallel to one another with numerous vanishing points throughout the images. Each photograph is made up of approximately 150 images. The street and buildings lie below the first rule of thirds while the magnificent big sky, sometimes with storm clouds, sometimes without dwarf the tiny buildings and man-made structures below, reminding the viewer just how insignificant man can be. It is all rather overwhelming.
Normally one would stand back to be able to take in the details of such a large print, but because the horizon line is so low in the images, the viewer is drawn in closer to the image to scrutinize in detail the tiny structures of each main street and to observe the amazing detail captured by the photographer. The colours are vibrant and pop. The banal looking buildings become engaging and humour becomes evident in the names of some of the motels, e.g. the Hotel California, in such an unlikely place. Singer’s large-scale photos elevate the small towns to places worth remembering. They certainly have intrigued me to the extent that I want to embark on a road trip and find some of these places.
In total contrast to Singer’s work, Mike Bayne’s work is extremely small. I actually thought they were photographs but the curator informed me that they were paintings, which really makes them all the more incredible taking in the amount of fine detail that is rendered in each painting. Like Singer’s large scale photos, Bayne’s little photos – I believe the largest one was 12″ x 8″, but the majority were around 6″ x 4″ in size – draw the viewer in to examine the painting in detail. I have to admit that I was at times really hard pressed to identify something in the paintings that actually looked as if it had been painted so accurate was the representation.
Mike Bayne’s subject matter is banal, ranging from backyard sheds, house frontages, shop signage, cars parked on the street – all everyday sights common to North America and which we take for granted, now elevated to gallery status albeit in a rather quirky and quaint fashion.
“Mike Bayne’s paintings are an exercise in photo-realism. His works are painted in the genre associated with the seventeenth century Dutch school of painting. His work is a study in the effects of natural versus artificial light, and an attempt to convey a sense of human absence and isolation. Mostly, though, the paintings address the banal or commonplace objects and spaces of everyday life, and demonstrate how under close examination they are transformed.”
Bayne works off photographs for his paintings. He enlarges his prints to 12″ x 8″ then creates a grid on mylar and overlays this on the photo. He then creates an identical grid on a piece of masonite then draws in the information in each grid onto the masonite with graphite. The he removes the grid from the photo and starts to block in the drawing on the masonite in oil paints. After this process has dried he begins the over painting and there can be any number of layers of paint in different areas of the painting in this process.
Timothy (2005) Mike Bayne Interview [online] BlogTO. Available at: http://www.blogto.com/arts/2005/05/mike_bayne_interview/ [Accessed 2 April, 2017]