Review: Penises and protrusions in the Yellow Box Gallery

(Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

If you take a walk up the stairs in the study hall, you will be privy to two beautiful sights. The first is a nice view of the campus. The second is the Yellow Box Gallery, the best nook in the school.
On Nov. 30 about two dozen people showed up to see the opening of the art gallery’s latest exhibit: 25 drawings by Winnipeg artist Diana Thorneycroft, titled “Carnivals of Tails, Tongues and Other Protrusions.” This is the Canadian debut of these works.

The drawings depict archetypal carnival performers in various scenes of lust and pain. A dark sense of humour accompanies the unfortunate predicaments placed on the sympathetic characters. With the presence of anamorphism, sexual fluidity and masks, the theme of identity is central to the work.

Thorneycroft’s works depict carnival performers in various scenes of lust and pain. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

Between drawings, there is a reoccurring image of a funnel tying characters together. With some appearing pleasured and others pained, the question of consent comes to mind. Are these funnels protruding or piercing?

Vibrant colours and a playful tone juxtapose the content of the drawings. Thorneycroft sketches out an alternate universe that feels oddly like our own but enhanced, giving the work a surrealist dream-like atmosphere.

Students tried to express how the art affected them as they gathered around sandwiches and cider outside the gallery.

“I don’t know if I can eat after that” confessed fine arts student Alex Meng.

Be aware, there is an abundance of nudity.

Some students said the work was awesome, others felt that it was weird, but all seemed impressed by Thorneycroft’s technique.

Students agreed that Thorneycroft’s work, while disturbing, showed impressive technique. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

The element of torture makes the work especially challenging. In one particular drawing, “Man with Skirt,” real pins and needles are actually stabbed into the drawing.

Thorneycroft’s art is known for generating a wide range of personal responses. It asks perplexing questions about the confusions of gender and sexual practices and the psychic and physical dimensions of anxiety.

Thorneycroft is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2016 Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction, an assistance to visual arts long-term grant from the Canada Council, several senior arts grants from the Manitoba Arts Council and a Fleck Fellowship from the Banff Centre for the Arts. Thorneycroft’s art was also recently feature in the exhibition “Felled Trees” at Canada House in London, UK.

Kim Vose Jones, director and curator of the Yellow Box, shared with the crowd a few words sent by Thorneycroft: “If someone wants to know what this work is about, I will say play, chance, make-believe, pointy bits, penises, funnels and open mouths filled with chaos and splendor. Enjoy.”

Students will not want to miss the opportunity to see this bizarre and beautiful art. The exhibit will run until Jan. 30, 2018



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