Rouge Gallery leaves imagining touch, expressiveness and community in the hands of the audience at home.
From the comfort of our beds, we can speculate on the vision of the artist and, in a way, be removed from the expectation of opening hours and social awkwardness. Instead we can take our time to reminisce, to taste the fine wine as it is intended — slow and leisurely.
Rouge Gallery, a local addition to the art scene, prides itself in creating more than just an artspace, but “a place to celebrate milestones, or to whisper under candlelight while sipping red wine,” according to its website.
Their transition to a virtual exhibit challenges traditional galleries by having all the pieces in one portal. Artwork from international, Canadian and local artists are shared on the same screen and can be viewed with a simple click. The accessibility of local artists to the mainstream is one of the winning points of the exhibit.
Brandi Hofer, a Canadian artist from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, is one of the featured artists in the gallery. Her artwork focuses on the female psyche and emotional self. Her piece Shawna VI gives a chaotic take on self-portraits using mixed media on paper and colourful tones as well as darkness, displaying a narrative of empowerment in this day and age.
Charles Ringness, a well-known local to Saskatoon, brings a different take on the city by using printmaking, airbrush and graphite to depict the Saskatchewan River and the Delta Hotels Bessborough, both places he grew up in. According to Ringness’ biography from the website, these places, “whisper to [him] like a two-way street.”
“I listen to them and their subtle murmur, while in my participation to use my materials and drawings,” Ringness said.
Walk in the Rain is one of his creations that uses light and mixed media to fully expose you to his childhood. The media depicts two people walking on a road, surrounded by the river and with the Bessborough in the background. The graininess of the pieces speaks on nostalgia and memories. Anyone that lives in Saskatoon can relate to the image and say, “I know that place!”
A newer addition to the Rouge Gallery is Sam Hamilton, a self-taught artist from Northern Ireland who now resides in Saskatoon. His use of pencil crayons to render still life objects creates an atmosphere of warmth and rare simplicity. I am taken back to my grandma’s cottages by Hamilton’s use of light in his paintings. Hamilton stated that the reason for his medium is that he feels it gives an “unsurpassed depth of richness and color.”
This can be seen in his piece Foil Reflection, a still life of apples on top of aluminum foil done entirely in coloured pencil. The magic is in the lighting done to mimic sunlight. The audience can almost reach out to grab a piece to bite.
The beauty of Rouge Gallery’s “Art Gallery Without Walls” is the accessibility of admiring works of art in solace. Instead of worrying about visiting a gallery during COVID-19, you are left to admire the swirls of the artists’ interpretations.
To separate the artist from the building is to remove the walls that stop most from truly admiring the work. To appreciate fine art is to discover the artist’s interpretation, and relate it back to yourself. The absence of a building should not deter the audience from their basic mission.
Although the act of getting ready, visiting and idly walking around the gallery has created a culture in itself, cherishing the work of an artist safely through a virtual gallery deserves to stand a chance.
Photo: Kristine Jones A. Del Socorro | Culture Editor