Reconstruction zone

Antiquity Reconstructed exhibited is on display at the Fort Gallery until April 17

Bette Laughy and Olga Khodyreva have collaborated on Antiquity Reconstructed

The Fort Gallery’s latest exhibit, “Antiquity Reconstructed,” pairs up two very different artists who are discovering they have striking similarities in their work.

Artists Bette Laughy and Olga Khodyreva had never met each other prior to preparing for the show, which opened at the Fort Langley art gallery on March 30. 

But, as Khodyreva says: “Some of the pieces look like we have been communicating for a while to create something similar.”

Although Laughy has created landscapes highlighting the rock and sky of Arizona and Khodyreva offers surrealist images of timeworn statues, both capture the essence of ancient items, whether natural or man-made, and portray the emotions they see within them.

“We are approaching our styles very differently, but its amazing our colours are so similar,” said Laughy. 

“The whole thing works together really well.”

Together, the two came up with the art exhibit’s name, which they say describes the measure of time in both of their work. 

For Laughy, the inspiration for her 12 acrylic and oil paintings comes from a series of trips to Arizona and the Four Corners of the United States (where Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico meet).

In her artist’s statement she writes: “There was a very spiritual quality to the light and an energy in the air … the first time I saw Monument Valley and felt its hushed atmosphere, it seemed as though I had stepped into God’s own cathedral. 

“My own life seemed a small, but natural, part of it all. I returned home at peace with myself.”

She says the paintings she is showcasing at the Fort Gallery are attempts at recreating this experience.

Khodyreva’s mixed-media pieces come from a very different inspiration. Currently completing her certificate in fine arts at Emily Carr University, her experiences there have guided her work. 

“It’s not that easy to define,” she said of her artwork. 

“It’s spiritual, and my images are surreal most of the time. My idea was to create something which was in between abstract and real, so I tried to use texture as an image as well, and then put a human face into it.” 

Laughy has been with the Fort Gallery for four years now, and says the group’s openness to artistic style and expression has made her experience there very enjoyable.

“It lets me be me,” she said. 

“The mandate is ‘exploration and contemporary work’ and that really suites me. I’m just not the type of person that can paint what somebody else wants, so this allows me to just please my own interests. It’s a very supportive environment. We really encourage one another to develop as far as we can.”

Khodyreva is the Gallery’s newest member, and says much the same about the environment there.

“Well I love it,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to exhibit and to learn. This is what I was looking for. And I like the experimental nature of the gallery.  We are pressed to create order sometimes. This is more about individual exploration.”

Antiquity Reconstructed runs until April 17 at  Fort Gallery, 9048 Glover Road in Fort Langley. 

As an extension of Antiquity Reconstructed, poet Susan McCaslin will read  from her newly released book, Demeter Goes Skydiving on Friday, April 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 pm.

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