Collection Spotlight: Robert Fones

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main-1994_04_i1_FrontOn the heels of opening our summer painting show, An Assembly of Shapes, we’ve been thinking about the outstanding work of Toronto artist Robert Fones a lot these days, whose current retrospective at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto is a must-see. This painting, Flannels (1994), is held in Oakville Galleries’ collection, and exemplifies Fones’ canny approach to parsing out the forms that animate our everyday lives. Here, Fones uses his signature trompe l’oeil painting technique to render the work’s title, itself sourced from Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, The American Woman’s Home, a nineteenth-century book on household design. In their tome, the word “flannels” appears on a diagram for a domestic organizing system—however, the word is plural and unclear: it could describe a napped woven cloth as readily as long dress trousers. Fones’ representation of the word is similarly ambiguous, hovering between two and three dimensions, occupying a single plane but offering the meticulous illusion of a relief sculpture.

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