Marla Panko at Burlington Art Centre

Two worlds collided for me recently when I visited Marla Panko‘s wonderful exhibition currently on view at the Burlington Art Centre.

The first world is the rich and rewarding tradition of modernism and, in particular, Cubist painting.  I’ve been a passionate admirer of the Cubist artists since my teen years. Why? I can’t necessarily explain it but it spoke to me immediately; love at first sight.

Cubism was iconoclastic and I compare it to my other favourite period, the early Renaissance. Solidly structured  compositions and (in the later Cubist era) richly patterned colours and bold use of black and white. Most of all, both periods were a new way to interpret the world and are visually beautiful art forms supported by exciting ideas and concepts.

A Cubist painting rarely sets out to please or mollify the viewer. More often, it challenges one’s comfortable notions about art and it’s role in our lives. So, why do the words structure and clarity come to mind, as well as those of Ms. Panko’s exhibition title ; meaning and order? The artist expresses the apparent contradiction well in the following quote from the catalogue:

“I am guided by the desire to make visual sense of the complex world around us – to find meaning and order within the disconnected elements and discarded fragments of modernity.”

by Marla Panko

The second world is  the Dundas Valley School of Art, where I taught for many years. Marla is a popular, long-time faculty member at DVSA. Dundas is a pretty town just west of Hamilton, Ontario. It’s regional school, DVSA, has made a huge positive contribution to many creative lives over five decades or so.

The BAC has done a thoughtful and tasteful job of installing the exhibition. Everything rings true with not a note out of place. Ms. Panko’s primary media are acrylic and collage. The works vary in size from the nine small collages that comprise THURSDAY JOURNAL to the larger acrylics. UNITED Z, shown below, is a mixed media relief.

I won’t attempt to say much about the work. First of all, the catalogue, shown above, contains an excellent essay by Elaine Hujer. Secondly, even fine words are no substitute for actually viewing the exhibition. Go see it.

by Marla Panko

The BAC is located at 1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario and can be contacted at (905) 632-7796. The exhibition continues until August 7, 2012.


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