Figurative group ‘rebels’ against modern art

Artwork by Jeremy Birnbaum of Phantoms in the Front Yard.  - COURTESY OF CITY OF POCO
Artwork by Jeremy Birnbaum of Phantoms in the Front Yard.
— image credit: COURTESY OF CITY OF POCO

An artist collective aimed at keeping the subject of the human form alive as a muse will launch its Phantoms exhibit in Port Coquitlam on Thursday.

Show organizer Jonathan Sutton — one of six artists with the Vancouver-based group Phantoms in the Front Yard — said the collective was formed about five years ago in an effort to revive figurative art, which he said has been out of the picture in today’s Canadian art scene.

The collective may have disparate styles as individual artists, Sutton said; however, “our one common thread is that we’re all interested in art history and we believe in artists being steeped in art history and being able to draw on references from a tradition while also forging ahead and being innovative.”

In short, its goal is not to copy the masters but to take the knowledge and to re-create the human form through various media. Its work can be seen regularly at Lower Mainland galleries and shops.

Sutton sees the collective as somewhat of a rebel “because the figure is not that popular in the contemporary art world and we’re not really happy to just let it go.

“We think the human figure is important and interesting and beautiful, and there are all kinds of new directions that can be paved for it.”

As for the PoCo show, Phantoms will be a retrospective of about 40 works from Sutton, Michael Abraham, Jeremy Birnbaum, Paul Morstad, Marcus Macleod and Jay Senetchko. The exhibit is curated by Pennyland Shen.

• The opening reception for Phantoms is Thursday, Jan. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Leigh Square Community Arts Village (behind PoCo city hall). The artists will also be on hand to speak about the collective’s mandate as well as their individual work. The show is up until Feb. 17.



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