SHAUNA BORN at Le Gallery (1183 Dundas West) to March 30. 416-532-8467. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Le gallery's new show officially adds painter Shauna Born to the list of recent OCAD grads who are increasingly difficult to avoid.
Her unique life-size portraits hold a viewer's gaze and crack open the wallets of window-gazing collectors. She sold out her thesis work last year, leaving only a few months to put together the winning portraits at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition.
Hanging here are works in charcoal, acrylics and oil on board. Lining up friends and family in natural poses and shooting them for reference, Born draws on the intimacy with the human form she gleaned at OCAD to achieve a look that's somehow real without being realistic. She imparts an impression of her subject rather than an image, painting the relationship between sitter and artist as opposed to portraits per se.
Sketching the subject's form, she leaves the rough lines visible under the paint. Backgrounds are monotonic acrylic beiges and off-whites, as is the clothing. Hair gets perfunctory solid reds, blues and whites in broad strokes, the strands delineated by the brush in the thick paint.
Most of all, the skin catches your eye, the faces, hands and arms.
Over a layer of gesso, Born elaborates skin tones in oil to give her subjects a fresh, almost translucent look. Natural colours are augmented by dashes of blue for shadows and reds that give lifeblood to the subjects' earnest expressions. Only the eyes and eyebrows stray from the colour scheme, in greens and browns.
Figures appear more than once, sometime overlapping in various poses, and in a couple of pieces Born puts two or three characters together in one work. Bodies combine on the board to produce interesting compositions that extend beyond the fascination of hands and faces, again marking Born's sophistication.
Get one while you can afford one.