Alexandrya Eaton


  • May 19 - Sep 8, 2002
  • Confederation Centre Art Gallery
  • Charlottetown, PE

"Through the expressionistic exploration of brushstroke, growth, colour, and movement, Eaton in fact paints the act and process of painting, creating sensuous effects."

Shauna McCabe, curator

Nine Pink Roses
  • Nine Pink Roses
  • Painting
  • 107 cm × 107 cm

What takes shape is less a process of visual rendering than a ritual approach to experience, assembling a composite from pieces that are not read, but as Illich describes- symbolic scripts in which “the reader must find the spoken expression from recollecting what has been said before”. Alexandrya Eaton’s Language (2000), is perhaps the most overt expression of building a visual rhetoric. The large grid of sixteen panels articulates the tension between abstraction and meaning that holds her entire body of work together, a reminder to pull apart each small piece to see the interdependency and relationships of parts to the whole. What is conveyed in this grid is not repetition, but a suggestion of grammar and syntax, a theme with variations that must be decoded to be understood, tangible also in other recent grids of Eaton’s where she has integrated separate smaller panels, as in Dozen (2002), and Nine (2002). in her own words, “I think of each one of my paintings as one in a series. The series is composed of all the paintings I have ever done, and all that will follow”.

Bliss Installation
Bliss Installation

Eaton is less interested than (John) Cox in depicting flowers naturalistically. The flower becomes a visual motif that allows her to explore the pleasure of colour, form and material. The bloom forms are planes for the study of colour, particularly visible in her small watercolours that repeat patterns and shapes, Color Grids 1-4 (1998). The scale of her larger works allows her to saturate the image and repeat patterns in a colourist style, juxtaposing bold hues, planes of colour, dissected by lines that direct the gaze. In her work, this simple subject matter is magnified to examine tactile qualities of paint, the feeling of colour, shape, and contrast. Verging on Fauvism, colours are not represented as tonal variations but as separate hues with symbolic meaning.

Bliss Installation
Bliss Installation

Eaton’s use of the less subtle medium of acrylic lends itself to the exploration of texture and has been the basis of her painting for the last ten years. Simplifying shapes, the flowers are almost graffiti-like, roughly sketched in two or three brushstrokes. Working quickly through crude thick lines, areas of vibrant colour with varying textures are placed in strategic spots. In each work, she builds up a three-dimensional history, or an illusion of a history, as each stroke and layer enhances and builds on previous layers, adding, subtracting, and editing until the final work emerges with a thick, dense finish. In the process of underpainting, overpainting, and canceling, the flowers become abstracted so that the image is really just a catalyst, a visual pretext. At the same time, they are not arbitrary. Elemental without being abstract, each flower is a threshold where materiality meets the non-material, as in Arrangement with Blue Line (1997). Through the expressionistic exploration of brushstroke, growth, colour, and movement, Eaton in fact paints the act and process of painting, creating sensuous effects.

The flower evolves from the division of space that occurs over and over again in her work, from the smaller singular works to her larger paintings and composites. The grid is often there overtly, as in Green Vase with Window (2001), and incorporated in more subtle and abstract ways through the repetition of form, serial imagery of the flower, as in Nine Pink Roses (1993), or of shapes, patterns, and dots which achieve the repetition yet remove it from the flower. The balance created is not about symmetry, rather an exploration of the organisation and geometry of space. Drawing upon emotional and imaginative sources, the grid offers a way of thinking and organising, a way of understanding space that divides colours yet forms a relationship. Through the division of space Eaton explores the texture of beauty, fusing visual and mathematical languages to evoke a pleasure of proportion and pattern.

~ Shauna McCabe, curator, "Bliss”