Critique by L.C. Russell
In his “Interactions In Blue” series Toby Malek has truly succeeded in capturing the spirit of his subjects. The colours are vivid. Rich cobalt and cyan punctuated with vivid reds and acidic yellows. His subjects are intimate and sensual verging on overtly sexual but there’s still a playful innocence about most of them. The first painting seems to be a visual debate about the female form and sex. The two images in the center ground are indulging in a rapt conversation while looking at their surroundings with obvious appreciation. Toby’s themes range from classic coming of age imagery and self exploration to quiet almost homey reflections. The paintings are warm and almost playful despite the heavy usage of colours normally associated with sadness and violence. A pair of female friends (perhaps sisters or lovers) lounge in the sunlight talking intimately. A lover presents red flowers to the object of his affection. A woman sits listening to a guitarist playing while fish, an often seen bit of symbolism throughout Mr. Malek’s work, wander by in the background. Two women lay comfortably watching their world.
Sensual intimacy I think is the best phrase to describe this body of work. It’s warm and rich with just a bit of an edge to it that keeps it from becoming overly sweet.
Toby Malek brings Cubism into the twenty-first century with his studies in blue series. Cubism rapidly followed the Post-Impressionism movement and was one of the most influential visual art styles of the early twentieth century.
Cubism was created at the turn of the century primarily by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Louis Vauxcelles coined the term Cubism after seeing the landscapes Braque had painted in 1908. Vauxcelles called the geometric forms in the highly abstracted works “cubes.” Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (Museum of Modern Art, New York), was one of the first pieces of figurative cubism. It’s stylization and distortion was strongly influenced by the primitive African art Picasso viewed when he went to the ethnographic museum in Paris.
Cubist painters reject the concept that art should copy nature in colour, shape or form. They also refuse to adopt the traditional techniques of perspective, modeling, and foreshortening. Instead they emphasize the two-dimensionality of the canvas. They reduce and fracture objects into geometric forms, and then realign them within a shallow, relief-like space. They also use multiple or contrasting vantage points. The subject of a picture is usually discernible despite it’s distortion. Cubists try to capture the spirit of a subject rather than it’s reality.