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    Shu Cheng (Shawn) Zheng features his distinctive style of making marks in Chinese..
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    • Friday, 21 Feb 6--9: Wine & cheese, entertainment by recording artist Katie..
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  • ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) 2020

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  • Clarkson Society of Artists 2020 Show & Sale

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    The Clarkson Society of Artists invites you to attend their annual show &..
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    North Van Arts is inviting artists to take part in an upcoming group..
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  • 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art Competition

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    Fusion Art is now accepting entries for the 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art..
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  • Call for Art - 11th Annual

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    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Call For Artists: The Other Art Fair Toronto

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    The Other Art Fair are thrilled to present the newest edition of The..
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  • Poetic Notions

    Location: Montreal, QC

    Bringing together 30 artists and poets, curators & participants Holly Friesen and Carolyn..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Colors Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Colors online art competition. For this..
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  • Marlene Kawalez and Corynn Kokolakis

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. March..
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  • Jane Selbie and Joseph Farrugia

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. February..
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  • Dianne Davis and the WAP Collective

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. February..
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  • “Grey” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline February 28, 2020

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Grey surrounds us, sometimes in surprising ways. In beach pebbles, a..
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  • on thin ice Polar Bear Art Exhibit

    Location: Toronto, ON

    On thin ice is a solo exhibit of polar bear portrait paintings by..
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  • Support the Worldwide Art Community | Participate in 6x6x2020

    Location: Rochester, ON

    Hello Artists in Canada, We want YOU to participate in 6x6x2020! Let your creative..
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  • Olivier Du Tre: New Works

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    January 7 to February 29, 2020 At HUB@302 302-1235 26 Ave SE, Calgary, AB..
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  • WAAH 124th Juried Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

    Location: Hamilton, ON

    Who:  The Women’s Art Association of Hamilton (WAAH) at the Art Gallery of..
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  • The Indian Contemporary Art Competition

    Location: New York, NY, ON

    The Indian Contemporary Art Competition (ICAC) aims to discover and promote talented artists..
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  • The Loft On King Street

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Loft On King Street is one of the most unique private event..
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  • Overzealous Fine Art Exhibition 2020 Call for Entry

    Location: Toronto (GTA), ON

    Submission Deadline: Sunday, March 1st, 2020 -- Exhibition Dates: March 30 – April 18,..
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  • VOYZX Exhibition of Contemporary Surrealism

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    VOYZX Exhibition of Contemporary Surrealism 2020 is an annual international art exhibition, dedicated..
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Jim Swain: Paintings

By Robert Amos November 22, 2004

} Jim Swain: Paintings at the Community Arts Council Gallery By Robert Amos Jim Swain: Paintings at the Community Arts Council Gallery Sussex Place Suite G-6, 1001 Douglas Street, 381-2787, until November 17 An untitled acrylic on canvas from Jim Swain’s show at the Community Arts Council Jim Swain’s painting titled “Alcohol can take me there” was stridently coloured and had a dipsomaniac tilt to it. I noticed it about ten years ago at a fund-raising auction at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Seen across a room of wine-swilling yuppies, here was a work of art which spoke to its context. I approached the painting to check for a signature in the lower corner. The artist had inscribed it - not with his name, but with five letters - “words”. I laughed out loud. Whoever the artist was, he had grabbed my attention. Ten years later, on the eve of his latest show, I cornered the artist at his home and asked him a few questions. His Oak Bay bungalow was tidy, and richly furnished from Value Village. Four matching ceramic TV lamps, in the shape of ducks on the rise, battled for my attention with the many paintings of mountain splendour by unknown amateurs. “Ugly is just as interesting as beautiful,” Swain quipped, “and a lot cheaper!” His own paintings tend toward lurid primary colours, and all represent people in some state of existential extremis. “Now and then I drift back to a more conservative concept, but to me they are dismal failures. You can fool everybody but yourself. And, you know, those failures always sell the best!,” Swain lamented. Despite his overheated style, Swain apparently knows how to paint. He has degrees in education and “intellectual history”. He has exhibited in Victoria at Open Space, the Macpherson Theatre, through Art Rental, and this will be his third solo show at the Community Arts Council gallery. If his goal was to paint for the marketplace, he believes he could do it. “I could be an art forger in a wink,” he boasted. But Swain has principles. “Painting is a personal trip that you go on, “ he continued. “The thing is that you have to be totally honest. There are a million forces that pull you in this direction or that. On the market side, they ask is: the frame nice? can he really draw? And on the other side, you’re up to your ass in deconstructionism and philosophy. It’s difficult.” But for 30 years he has persisted. “It’s what I do. Art is a debate about the human condition. That’s what paintings have always talked about. I don’t think art should disappear on the wall. It should grab you and make you wonder.” Grab? Wonder? You bet! The current show presents 21 pictures, each 20 x 24 inches. They are framed with cheap lumber and duct tape. (The ones in his own living room had old brass picture lamps affixed to the frames). Swain’s strategy is to sell them all. The last three shows did indeed sell out, to some degree because each painting is priced at only $200. “I don’t charge much for them. I don’t want them filling up the basement. The ones that are sold are spread out and gone. I don’t want to think about them. If they came back, I’d probably paint over them.” Swain paused to contemplate that frightening thought. “Then it would be just me and the paintings. I don’t want that,” he insisted. Certainly Swain has his influences. The late, wild canvases of Picasso speak clearly to this 56 year old Victorian. Swain quotes his hero: “Art is an exquisite con.” And Andy Warhol’s example is a guiding light. Swain quotes him too: “Art is what you can get away with.” Songs from the existential void by Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits play over and over in this artist’s mind. “I’ve a terrible story to tell,” Swain offered. “As Tom Waits would say, “you’ve heard this story before, and here it comes again.”” He’s voluble and cultured, but seems to treasure the inhospitable secrecy of the carport studio in the secluded garden of his home. “I can hide in my darkened studio,” he chortled. I confess I have never seen a less well-lit painting place. To avoid interruption, he told me, “I lock it - from the inside.” There, he pokes and slashes with a select few primary colours of acrylic paint. His preferred brush is a congealed chunk of rigid bristle. I tried to bring our conversation around to the “meaning” of Swain’s work. The artist laughed. “Just look at the colour,” he demanded. “What more can I say? I’m already screaming at the top of my voice!”. Well, then, perhaps he’d tell me why he writes “words” in the lower right corner of each of the paintings. Obviously, he’d been asked that question before, and had a few answers lined up. “I can’t tell you,” he began, and paused to see it I’d accept that. “It’s a dada thing,” he offered next, referring to Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. “Well, really,” he ventured at last, “I have this sort of ritual that, when I’ve signed a picture, it’s all over: it’s finished. I won’t touch it again. And once you’ve finished a picture, all that’s left is... words.” ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2004Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B.C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com