Nora Camps – Arrival and Departure
As reviewed by John K. Grande, 2015

Nora Camps has described her paintings as being like windows or doors, points of entry and exit. As such, her paintings engage us in a visual dialogue that could be described as existing in a point somewhere between arrival and departure. The journey of life becomes a metaphor for how brief life actually is, but how rich and rewarding it can likewise be, if we can go out of ourselves and engage in the vast theatre of life.

Her paintings are enactments of her searching persona. As a painter, she is on a spiritual search. The wide range of acrylic paintings she produces touch on aspects of gestural abstraction and lyrical landscape figuration. With her abstract experiments, paint is applied to build rhythmic or dramatic compositions that we all can identify with. A large scale acrylic on abstract titled Arriving has a sense of vertigo for we cannot see the form moving upwards from under the bright water surface. Water being the embodiment of spiritual essence, as a painting, Arriving holds its own well, and inspired the musician Louis Steimberg to compose a work that brings out the essence of this painting – its a search for home, a journey within oneself that achieves a harmony through experience.

Some of Nora Camps’ paintings are landscapes, but they are close to being abstract, and draw on the pure power of texture and colour. Some of these landscapes of the inner self resonate with energy. Surfacing links the energy that surrounds us, that is part of the physics of life, with our inner self, and the two seemingly interchange in vaporous blue atmospheres. Other works like Ice Field and Sea are more textural, graphic, again suggesting the energies and transformative power of nature’s forces. Compressed Seascape does the same, but using a trio of vertical triptychs that generate a sense of space and time. The Totem Poles, three-dimensional configurations in wood, are expressions of Nora Camps’ reverence for Canada’s Native Peoples. They build bridges between the indigenous peoples of North America and those who came after. Her photographic works likewise engage on a two-­way dialogue between nature and culture.

Nora Camps’ paintings continue to explore the world around us, our place in the context of nature and the universe. Close up and at a distance, these paintings describe the many and subtle paths our imagination can take. They are expressive attempts at bringing the artist’s inner self into direct communication with the outer world, for nature is part of the human social sphere as much as culture is.

John K. Grande


Reciprocity by Nora Camps

A Review of Mediated Space. The work of Nora Camps & Avril Bull-Jones
by Cathy McKim, life with more cowbell 2016

Abstract expressionist Nora Camps launched a unique exhibit of her work, along with guest artist Avril Bull-Jones, last Thursday night: Mediated Space at Arbitration Place. The site-specific show had an opening reception, and from there will be an immersive experience for those who work in and use the space.

The idea came from an experience Camps had when her work was incorporated into a house staging a few years ago. When the buyers took possession of their new home, they were distressed. The space didn’t feel right. Something was missing. Turns out, what they were missing was the paintings. In the initial showing of the home, the paintings impacted how they perceived and responded to the space.

Arbitration Place is a dispute resolution facility, equipped with a series of hearing rooms, and a staff of resident and member arbitrators, and in-house legal support, as well as a concierge administrative/services team. Two parties will meet to resolve an issue – and although this is not a trial setting, strong emotions and high stakes will still come into play. How will the presence of these works transform the space and impact the rapport between the arguing sides?

Camps and Bull-Jones are two very different artists, with divergent approaches and media. There is an intensely deep, expressively dramatic feel to Camps’ work, while Bull-Jones’ pieces have an organic, storytelling quality, at times nostalgic and whimsical. And yet, both artists create works that are rooted in a personal response to nature and the space around them – engaging, moving and evoking a response in the viewer.

Abstract expressionist Camps works mainly in acrylic, with pieces ranging from the shimmering, luminous and textured Flowers Silver to the deeper, dramatic palate of Red Trees Reflected, to the sensual and organic touches in On Pond and Below Sea Level 3. Interesting dynamics emerge in how the works are placed in the space (in the reception area, hallways and hearing rooms): Red Trees Reflected is hung opposite Blue Portal in a startling and moving contrast of hot and cold, with the Blue Portal canvas revealing tension of its own, as a red horizontal line cuts across an oceanic blue and white background.

Bull-Jones’ work incorporates a variety of printing processes, as well as acrylic and watercolour, creating images inspired by the patterns and dance of nature. Falling for You is a whimsical portrait of falling leaves. Contrast is evident here as well, the cool blue background of the falling leaves in Plunging Lines hangs in the same room as the hot, organic orange and cinnamon of Balanced Sizzle. There are scenes of anthropomorphized flora in the nature love-in So Special and the emerging figure in In and Out; and an illustration style in the fable-like Mystical Universe, where four elephants ride a sea turtle.

As these spaces get used over the course of the exhibit, I imagine these works acting as both flies on the wall and catalysts to the nature and tone of the proceedings that unfold.

A lovely combination of luminous, organic and abstract – vibrating with colour and tension – in Mediated Space.

Written by Cathy McKim.