Artists Joe and Matt Catalano prove the old adage ‘the acorn doesn’t fall far from the oak’ in their joint exhibition “Arbor Nimbus” at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa. Paintings of trees by the father are paired with paintings of clouds by the son with obvious allusions to nature’s circle of life but the show, curated by Catalano fils, at the Galley A until Sep 10, goes deeper than that.
The interplay of old and young, natural and digital, tree and cloud, sky and ground are present in the choice of the works but work was chosen based on palette rather than subject. The choice of colour as the common bond is telling but it is the style both artists display that speaks to the relationship between the two. There is no Oedipal complexity here. No conflict or competition but one of common respect, championing, and harmony. The playfulness exhibited by both erase the boundary of age that separates them.
Joe’s oil on canvas paintings have a certain whimsy. If Dr. Seuss was a member of the Group of Seven the trees of Algonquin would look like Joe’s. Rather than portray the external Joe gets internal and paints how it feels to be a tree. Rather than the stern static grounded object a tree can be seen as, his trees revel in their relationship with the world. His trees celebrate, his trees contort and consort with their surroundings. Rather than hear the wind in the branches we see it act on the entire tree; the leaves, branches, limbs, trunk. His trees vibrate, they communicate, they signal. His trees are air waves.
Matt Catalano’s digital prints, created with an IPad app, also vibrate. They buzz as the colours and patterns act upon each other. They are electrified waves. There is an indication of purpose based on shape and positioning but there are questions to be answered.
In “Common Thread” by Matt, do the streamer-like lines fall from the cloud-like shape? Is this a storm? or are the streams legs holding up the puffed up forms? Are the streamers trunks and the puffs foliage? Is this rain or a forest? Is there a difference, is there a difference between Arbor and Nimbus? And yes, beyond age is there a difference between the father and the son, the acorn and the oak?