Looking at Vincent Mikuska’s paintings in his solo show Shifting Perspectives, one probably wouldn’t have guessed that the start of some of them came about purely by accident.
His colourful abstract landscape paintings are the most recent pieces of artwork to fill the walls of the O’Connor Group Art Gallery in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.
About half of the work in the exhibition stemmed from a realization Mikuska had by looking at one specific tool he uses to paint – small bits of cardboard.
He uses rectangular pieces of cardboard, like a brush, to move the paint around and pull it across the canvas. When he does that, excess paint accumulates along the edge of the cardboard. Over time it would and dry and, after many uses, different colours and layers appeared.
“I just had them sitting around and never really looked at them and then one day I picked them up and thought ‘oh, that’s kind of cool,’” he recalled. “There would be different kinds of things happening with the overlays of the colour and often the shape.”
Those “micro” landscape images he found on the cardboard were the inspiration for may of the pieces in the show.
“In my effort to recreate those images, the resulting work has developed an undulating, wave-like feel.”
The pandemic has had only a positive impact on his work, since he’s been staying home and has had a lot more time to spend on painting. Normally, he would be on the road about 190 days of the year as the head coach of the Canadian Paralympic swim team.
“I had some of these ideas percolating for a while,” Mikuska said.
COVID-19 gave him the time he needed to put those ideas on canvas. More than half of the work in the show was created in the past year.
He said he tries to “challenge” what and how he sees, and asks “what do I look at amongst all the possible choices and what are the relationships between the things?
“Colour, perspective and movement are all important to trying to reimagine my surroundings.”
He’s also started using different angles in his work and, in other pieces, has incorporated white to open up space between the colours and add “breathing room.”
While brilliant colours move across the top and bottom of the canvas, the middle remains bare.
“White can also be seen as a positive or negative space in relation to the other colours.”
Since people see different subjects when viewing abstract art, Mikuska has given a title for each piece in the show because it gives people some direction in how to see his work.
Vincent Mikuska’s solo exhibition, Shifting Perspectives, is on now at the O’Connor Group Art Gallery in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre from March 29 to May 7.
Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday (closed on Holidays). Only five people are allowed in the gallery at a time. Admission is free.