Series Exhibition at the Atomic Rooster

Photo by Kyle Fazackerley.
Photo by Kyle Fazackerley.

Atomic Rooster opened Sheena Kalmakova’s Series Exhibition May 4. Paintings from all four of Kalmakova’s series were displayed including Moon Series, Sun Series, October Series and The Crows Series.

Atomic Rooster is a small intimate space where people come together to eat, drink a fresh pint, and enjoy some art.

Kalmakova’s art gives the bistro a romantic, almost dream-like ambiance. Her series wraps around the restaurant and progresses through stages of subject matter and colour as the warm glowing backdrops of Sun Series progress into the more dark renderings of October Series.

“The scenes and subject matter I choose to paint are those that I need or want to spend time with, or those that have greatly affected me. My pieces are impressions of things I have seen, or they are my best physical depiction of a feeling that I have experienced,” Kalmakova said. “Painting is my entry point and method for processing, reflecting, understanding and dealing with my experiences.”

Kalmakova’s paintings are in various styles. She said she likes to experiment with different mediums and approaches in her work.

“Although the subject matter may be the same, the individual pieces within the series may vary,” she said. “I can understand how this deviation could be frustrating to an audience, much like when your favourite band puts out an album that explores a whole different sound than the one you’ve grown attached to.”

Kalmakova said she prefers to experiment rather than have her art become stagnant.

“I feel that experimentation and discovery are essential to the creative process to keep the work genuine, and avoids painting oneself into a ‘do-it-because-it sells’ kind of a corner,” she said.

Kalmakova strongly advocates showing artwork in a bar setting like Atomic Rooster because it is an accessible space.

“The Rooster is one of those fabulous venues that help support our local artist community,” she said.

Atomic Rooster also provides an outlet for local artists to create and express themselves in a laid back setting. Artists can gather once a month to draw live models. Elli Merkis, a server at Atomic Rooster, models regularly.

“They’re all different themes, the first one was Steampunk, the second one was rockabilly and this one ComicCon, next month apparently it’s supposed to be a glamorous, classic movie star red carpet,” she said.

All the events and concerts at Atomic Rooster, such as May’s “Ode to Comiccon” live-modelling event, are free. Dana Burton said she has been coming to the Atomic Rooster since she moved to Ottawa four years ago.

“I find the Atomic Rooster inviting and encouraging for local artists to produce work by giving them that option to potentially hang their art,” she said. “I find Sheena’s work especially interesting. It has this serene, beautiful, and almost dark quality to it that is striking.”

Kalmakova’s Series Exhibition will continue to hang on the walls of Atomic Rooster until June 8.

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Exposed and Avant-Garde – Naked “LVNDSCVPES”

Self-taught artist Natalie Bruvels released her latest seriesLVNDSCVPES at La Petite Mort Gallery May 24.

Natalie Bruvels with her painting “Colossus” 

Photo Credit:Willie Carroll

LVNDSCVPES playfully uses the image of the ‘vagina dentata’ (latin for toothed vagina) to illustrate the fear and awe of a Canadian settler sailing into the St. Lawrence River.

“When you’re coming into the St. Lawrence, it’s almost like you’re going into a vagina dentata. A toothed, harrowing, man’s greatest nightmare” said Bruvels.

The title, like her series, is a play on the fusion of landscape with figurative painting.

“It’s somewhat a play on the ‘vagina dentata’ and people have been looking at my paintings and saying ‘Does she know they’re not landscapes? Does she get it, what is she doing?’” Bruvels explained.

However, Bruvels’ work is anything but harrowing. It’s a sensual orgasm with its vibrant, boldly dripping palette.

“Rainbow Connection” displays a seemingly abstract landscape of two figures making love.

“I like it cause it’s like the colours are being drained out of the rainbow and put into the amorist couple. It’s very lively,” she said.

Gallery director Guy Bérubé was pleased with Bruvel’s return to her beginning emphasis on the female nude after a brief depart to explore the innocent subject matter of a baby’s face in her June 2012 solo show Baby Beast.

“The content, where we’re obviously looking at physical landscapes of people fucking, I was surprised not because it was graphic in content, but because I thought they were vulnerable once again,” he said.

“Are we looking at content that’s personal, or that’s fantasy, or imaginary, or is it something she pulled from the Internet? I’ve never asked her. I just took them for what they are.”

Bruvels said she hopes viewers will take away “the playfulness of sex” from her work.

“I just loved the female form and I am drawn to it. I am drawn to the beauty, from the seemingly grotesque to absolutely everything about the female form,” she said.

“I know a lot of people who love the colour I use but they wish I would change the subject matter. I’m not trying to do anything to try and make someone uncomfortable. It’s not invading your privacy. It’s something that most of us enjoy and it’s also interesting to me.”

“Colossus” is a risqué landscape interpretation of a statue known as “The Colossus of Rhodes,” one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The statue was believed to stand over the harbour as boats came in between its legs.

Bruvels translates this into a stoic female penetrated by the penis.

Bruvels said she considers “Colossus” a landscape because it has certain qualities.

“There’s the trees in the background and it’s almost like the mountains are making out. It’s silly but its playful and its fun and doesn’t always have to be ultra-serious,” she said.

“Her work reminds me of Holgate, the eighth member of the Group of Seven,” said artist Michael Ashley, whose work has shown at La Petite Mort gallery before.

“He was notorious for taking the Group of Seven landscapes but also putting nudes in them.”

Ashley even described the series as “amusingly kinky.”

As for Bruvels, she said she hopes people who view the exhibit can really appreciate the female form.

“If I had to make a single comment,” she said, “It would just be how awesome is it to have a naked lady on your wall and to be comfortable with that.”

See the article “The female form gets reinterpreted in landscapes” in its original context: