Russell Yuristy, "Two Oaks," 2006, woodcut, 42.25" x 29"
Nouveau Gallery, Regina
May 25 - June 20, 2007
By Jack Anderson
“Attacking”, as he puts it, large sheets of plywood with wood carving tools, Ottawa artist Russell Yuristy creates large-scale black and white prints with an expressive directness that resembles his gestural paintings. Working without preconception, his images of woodland animals and wild plants such as mullein, bull thistle and red tail grass develop — grow — almost organically under his hand. As well, he includes etchings in this new body of work, executed with electric grinding implements that enable him to work quickly and intuitively. Externalizing not only his personal identification with nature but his metaphorical “admiration of all life”, Yuristy’s work celebrates a utopia that he considers less an idealization found elsewhere, but one present in nature around us. Further collapsing distance through a gesture of intimacy, he hand-colours some of his images with pastels. While avoiding overt cynicism or anger about the damaged and endangered ecosystem we share with these life forms, Yuristy nonetheless asks us to consider our place within the ecosystem. Indeed, his untroubled, graphically lush images bring us closer to nature, bridging physical and emotional gaps that separate us from it. Beyond resignation or frustration, his is an ethic of equanimity; his prints, a personal offering of goodwill.
Represented by: Nouveau Gallery, Regina; Cube Gallery, Ottawa