The Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives is displaying the works of Aba Bayefsky and the duo comprising Viliam Hrubovcak and Jolie Fejer in an exhibition entitled “Inked: Tattoos and the Stories They Tell” that opened last week. If you’re intrigued by tattoos or have an interest in original punk rockers, then these exhibitions are worth a visit.
Stepping inside the walls of the gallery, I was intrigued by the beauty and detail of Bayefsky’s watercolour and graphite gesture drawings. I’m familiar with figure drawings, but I’ve never seen drawings of models with such exquisite tattoos on their bodies. The tattoos look like aged artworks because of Bayefsky’s relaxed brushstrokes and graphite outlines.
Fitting very appropriately with the exhibition’s theme, Bayefsky’s works demonstrate the tattoo’s power in shaping individuality; each drawing captures the strength and poise of the human figure.
Bayefsky’s fascination with tattoos began when he learned about the Japanese tattooing tradition. In Japan, tattoos are decoration and the skin is viewed as a drawing surface; each tattoo fits into the overall design of all the tattoos on a person’s body.
A piece that stands out among the drawings is “Tatu Manotu and Pheonix”, a dark and fluid oil painting whose shades and colours immediately caught my attention. The combination of wispy and blotted lines blends into a surreal scene of a heavily tattooed man interacting with a stylized phoenix. It’s punchy and energetic, with previously unnoticed flowers and markings jumping out at the viewer the longer one looks.
Bayefsky’s application of colour and line work are unlike any I’ve ever seen. There’s a particular softness and daintiness to his works. He captures the essence of strength through watercolours and graphite—two beautifully soft media.
Banefsky’s exhibition contrasts sharply with Hrubovcak and Fejer’s photography, shown just a few steps past the first gallery space in “One Offs” (the opening reception for which will be held on Sunday, November 17 from 2 to 4 p.m.). This series celebrates portraits and various photos of musicians active from as early as the early ’70s, all of which are printed in high-contrast black and white. The faces of iconic musicians like Billy Idol, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, and the Ramones popped out at me as I scanned the walls of the gallery. This exhibition gives a unique glimpse into the rockstar lifestyle and the origins of punk. Each image boldly stands alone but also connects to others in the series, since all the pieces share a similar style. The contrast between the black and white of the photos is reminiscent of film noir, and some truly iconic and vivid moments are captured. There are also quiet, behind-the-scenes moments on display, like someone having a cigarette or a glimpse of an ordinary conversation.
PAMA is home to a lot of inspiring work that’s certainly worth a visit.