Chris Charlebois, "Bound Together," oil on canvas, 2010, 30" X 60".
November 17 to December 1, Kurbatoff Gallery, Vancouver
BY: Helena Wadsley
Dense with colour and texture, Chris Charlebois’ paintings rarely involve a paintbrush. A palette knife loaded with a few colours is used to apply the thick paint, beginning with broad gestures. As the layers build up, Charlebois applies less paint and becomes more detailed. Connection to location is key to his work — most of his subjects come from his home neighbourhood in the Vancouver suburb of Steveston, known for its riverside marshes and meadows. While he chooses unusual viewpoints rather than looking for the scenic vista, Charlebois feels he must have an understanding of the subject. Close-up views of ditches or reeds, for him, reveal the drama of nature. He rarely relies on sketches or photos, allowing the painting to take over, moving toward abstraction as he builds layers. Forks, toothpicks, pieces of wood might all be used to produce texture to create the impression of rippling water, or a jumble of weeds, a balance of working from memory and allowing himself to be swept along by the energetic layering. The result is a feast of colour, gesture and line that bring us a little closer to the overlooked elements of nature.