"Luna (In Memory)"
Lindy Michie, "Luna (In Memory)," n/d, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 16 inches. Photo: The New West Gallery.
LINDY MICHIE, Passionate Reflections
The New West Gallery, Sidney, BC
June 18 — July 8, 2006
By Grant Hayter-Menzies
It's not particularly important to know that Victoria-based painter Lindy Michie's grandmother was the famed Scottish artist Anne Redpath, or that her father, Alastair Michie, is a noted painter and sculptor in the UK, but if there is anything to the theory of inherited talent, there is also something to the possibility of inherited artistic vision. Even as eye colour, vocal timbre, or subtle gestures can stamp the members of a family, there is a thread, quite literally, that runs through Lindy Michie's artistic heritage: an intersecting warp and weft, like the fabrics created by Anne Redpath's textile designer father, which seem to layer multiple folds of emotion and meaning across each generation of this family's art.
This heritage and what Michie makes of it can be clearly seen in her solo exhibition, Passionate Reflections, at New West Gallery. Among the richly coloured reefs and archipelagos of Michie's abstract imagery, reminiscent but not at all emulative of her father's angular left brain constructions, the viewer's eye is arrested by the sudden calm of her floral still lifes, evocative of her grandmother's flower studies. Outside the ordered realm of Chinese scroll painting, rarely is the workaday studio subject of tulips thrust in a vase refined to such essence of simple beauty. Abstract technique and compositional shapes of patterned paper disengage the images into broken reflections of themselves — these are flowers built not of petals and stems but of architectonic reactions to colour, scent, and mood — yet Michie's flowers bring the viewer into communion with the flower's own soul. More significant, however, is what Michie does from her own self-expression. She brings to all her paintings a childlike sweetness and verve, an intuitive clarity, reminiscent of neither her father nor grandmother but as true to herself as to the sense of familial homage she obviously feels.
The textures and images Michie achieves give the impression of being not so much the result of adding to as subtracting from; the opposite of her grandmother's impasto realism and, instead, a kind of pentimento technique of scraping away just enough of the painted surface to reveal successive layers beneath. In almost every case with these paintings, a reserved surface plane parts to reveal shimmeringly dramatic colours which, far from being secondary to the artist's chosen shapes, seem to determine and explain their very existence.
Michie's abstract vision — Luna (In Memory), for example — and her almost representational Back Tulips 2, are equally effective intellectually and emotionally. Yet what poet Emily Dickinson might have called "a certain slant of light," so apropos to the interior of mind and home, is not confined to those intimate areas. Her landscapes, likeDorset Landscape III and Baja I, unfold endless vistas of fields, sky, and sea — the wide-angle, too-much-to-take-in-at-once panorama a child remembers of first seeing the ocean, or of being turned loose in meadows that seem to roll to infinity.
As Michie's debut show in the Greater Victoria area, Passionate Reflections offers a dramatic glimpse into the vision an artist must develop in order to define the visible and the invisible on her own terms.