Hidden in a nook of the Art Gallery of Mississauga are artists of all ages and walks of life who mingle, share, and relate their experiences with one another.

On February 10, the AGM hosted ART CRIT. Earlier this month, artists submitted their work to be critiqued by peer artists and members of the arts community. Artists put forth a body of work that would receive feedback and discussion regarding their pieces. People went up, explained their work, and received feedback on what they did well and where they can find opportunities to improve their work.

Some interesting works included Rosalie Lam’s Fu series. All her paintings follow the theme of happiness. Lam developed an interest in calligraphy when she lived in Beijing. She says that there are more than one hundred characters that represent happiness. Her work fuses her calligraphy by using the various fu characters as the main component in her paintings. Her work, painted from acrylic or oil on canvas had a welcoming feel to it, with the pastel palette of lavenders, whites, and light greens, and included East Asian-inspired lower decor. In one piece called “Celebration,” Lam makes the Chinese characters look like they explode off the paper in conjunction with the firecrackers she painted to represent the beginning of the Chinese New Year.

Some of the art showed a humorous response with the manipulation of realistic figures. Devon Ross’s work had a series of paintings that depicted animals in a humorous way. For example, one work entitled “Cardinal,” was a picture of a cardinal bird dressed as a Cardinal—which is a Catholic figurehead. The paintings were reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s brushwork style, given that Ross used the medium of acrylic paint on a canvas.

Stephanie Avery’s work took on a comedic flair of its own. Avery took magazine ads, painting startlingly humanoid characters or alien-like creatures over the original cover models. It was an interesting critique of consumer culture. This is because ads are filled with digitally-manipulated bodies that are so ubiquitous in society, people become conditioned to their absurdity. She would paint over the ads in water colour to get the effect. One of her works, titled “Secrets,” featured a characterization of a Victoria’s Secret model. It was humourous and makes the observer think about what someone defines as normal versus absurd.

Other people used a digital creation to present their work. Simran Patel used a photograph of a city background and added a digitally drawn woman in Indian wedding attire meditating on the roof. The stark contrast between the brightly colored woman and the faded and busy city streets represents both the peace and chaos that life has to offer.

The struggle of migration is also explored in Esmond Lee’s work. Lee uses photography to create evocative pieces about his family’s intergenerational struggles. In particular, his photography tells the story of immigrants and discovery of identity influenced by Eastern and Western values. He comes from an architecture background. Lee plays with natural shadow and light in his pieces that represent the opposing values. One piece that stands out is a picture of his mother’s desk. The room is dark and there is a faded piece paper with writing on the desk, which is illuminated by a desk lamp and a flower bathing in its light. Lee says that this was to demonstrate his mother’s nurturing spirit and the many sacrifices she made for Lee when their family immigrated to Canada.

ART CRIT is held in conjunction with the Visual Arts Mississauga exhibition.