Bump, Ride, Its

2003 – 2006 
Paintings, oil and gesso on canvas 

About Bump, Ride, Its

Victoria artist Sandra Meigs is one of the Canadian art world’s most intriguing creatures. Her paintings seem to defy description (though I’ll try in a minute), and no exhibition of her art looks like the one that came before it. As well, her art is built from contradictions.

The paintings are funny, antic things, and yet they carry an aftertaste of sadness. At times, they dare to be ugly, yet they seduce you with their charm. They look like child’s play, but they grapple with grown-up stuff. They are learned, and then they are colloquial….

One large vertical painting depicts a giant green clown, his head tipped sharply to one side. One upturned boot swells nightmarishly while the other shrivels away.

Another painting shows a girl restraining a brace of geese, their necks slumped over in a spent swoon. When I mentioned the myth of Leda and the swan, that archetypal tale of plundering male lust and female erotic abandon, Meigs smiled before turning contemplative. The tables here are turned, she pointed out. “I find this one a sad one,” she said. “I really see her as trying to get them up, but they’re just not responding.”

Somehow, with its curving arabesques and goofy, grotesque distortions, the picture feels both innocent and ribald at the same time.

One of the subtler dramas played out in these new works is the relationship between figure and ground, a fundamental formal issue that besets any artist making a painting. Here, the negative spaces — the white areas — are far from neutral. They are shockingly alive.

In one celadon green and white painting titled Girl Kissing Horse, a host of slippery white-on-white characters animate the presumed-to-be-empty places: a stylized foot, a naked lady, a zygote and a penis, which thrusts its way into the gap of the horse’s open mouth — a subtle phallic figment that, like the other background figures, evades detection at first glance….
— Sarah Milroy, “Contradictions on Canvas,” The Globe and Mail, Friday, November 12, 2004