Michael Flisak’s exhibition of drawings and paintings in the gallery at Centre 64 is a bit of a head scratcher. You will be forgiven if at first you don’t quite know what you are looking at. Visual Puns, as Flisak describes these works, are pictures which you might consider doodles. They contain more than one image and challenge the notion that art needs to be serious to be meaningful.
Explains the artist: “I start with a row of tiny scribbled drawings. Selecting one to develop into a large image, I’ll draw it ten, even fifteen times in a row. Working quickly, the motion of drawing becomes increasingly automatic so they retain the spirit of the original tiny drawing, but (are) much more informed. They take on multiple characteristics, resembling more than one image without being specific.
“The result is a visual pun where viewers see one characteristic or image that shifts into another as they look. Some images take on a humorous quality. For example, one image shifts between Venus de Milo and a puppy.
“The next step is to develop them into a painting. I developed an approach where I create a painted surface, draw on top of it, paint it out, and redraw on top etc. until I arrive at the final image. This way each painting is a unique image with its own quality of expression.”
The pictures are, perhaps, easier to understand than the explanation. Several of them appear to be in sets of similar images, sometimes large and small – and when I say large, I mean huge – others stand alone. Many are intriguing, requiring some period of contemplation before all the ambiguous images separate and present themselves clearly.
Michael Flisak for a time lived and painted in Cranbrook before moving north to Golden and from there to Innisfail. His work has been exhibited in the Arts on the Edge show at Centre 64 on a couple of occasions and has been displayed in much more prestigious galleries elsewhere. If you Google him you’ll quickly see what a fascinating artist he is.
The exhibition is on both floors of the Gallery at Centre 64. It can be viewed free of charge – though donations are welcomed – from 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, until July 4.