Clashing abstract and realism 

B.C. artist Jay Hanscom blends two opposing styles of art in his collection Rumble & Loot


WHAT: Rumble & Loot

WHERE: Millennium Place

WHEN: Now until Sunday, Nov. 6


Artists will forever be defined by the work of artists that have come before. Some artists rebel against this notion, spending their entire careers trying to erase the imprints of the past while creating innovative work that looks only to the future.

And others, including B.C. artist Jay Hanscom, understand the futility of breaking away and intentionally integrate elements of their influences in their work instead, building upon, and moving on from, everything that has come before.

"I think it's pretty hard to separate yourself from art that's been done in the past," Hanscom says, "I put direct imagery into the work that represent certain artists that I admire."

His newest collection, Rumble & Loot, on display at Millennium Place, is in part homage to Neo-expressionists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Phillip Guston. But while the influences are clear, it is hardly derivative. Each piece, painted on wood box frames, uses crude brush strokes along with finely rendered, detailed drawings to juxtapose realism and the abstract.

The point, he says, is to bridge his ideas of "good art" that he held in his youth with the more experimental work he produces as an adult.

"Obviously realism is the key when you're younger. I'm just trying to get away from that, trying to be a little more quick and responsive with the work."

Born in Burnaby and raised in Coquitlam, Hanscom enrolled in the fine arts program at Langara College before finishing his degree at Emily Carr. Since moving to Vancouver Island a decade ago, he's had solo exhibits in galleries throughout Victoria and the Lower Mainland.

He takes his inspiration from the old West, space adventure films and, most notably, music lyrics, taking lines from songs and creating an image around it. His piece "Diamonds in Shit" is a line taken from a Queens of the Stone Age song and shows a crudely rendered pile of excrement dotted with beautifully detailed diamonds.

Another piece, "25th Century," depicts an anvil, drawn in stark realist manner, being hoisted with a rope over an abstract, rather bleak backdrop featuring what appears to be another anvil and what may or may not be a disintegrating urban landscape.

There is a recurrent theme of destruction and despair in Hanscom's art, and while he says he draws the stark political and economic climate along with his own psyche, he's conveying no particular message. Each piece is strictly an exercise in the visual arts. It's aesthetic reasoning over anything else.

"I just like the contradiction between the two (abstract and realism)," he says. "For me, there's always an underlying theme or concept but, yeah, it's visual."

Rumble & Loot is on display now at the Scotia Creek Gallery in Millennium Place now until Nov. 4.



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