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Blue Line

Blue Line

Opening reception February 13, 2016 at 8 PM
Reception sponsored by KPMG

Integral to the development process, erasure and exclusion often act as silent mechanisms in organizing a work of art into its ordered, finished state.  Blue Line presents the story of process, enabling the possibility to peer into the unstable adolescence of a comic panel’s life.  As a site of construction, this exhibition highlights the sketchy, untidy, and free flowing components as operationally necessary and fruitful for the completion of a work.  Indispensable to the cartoonist’s tool kit, the line of non-photo blue pencil renders it possible to lay out images, refine, adjust, and amend any undesirable aspects, leaving a faint trace of the artist’s idiosyncrasies, yet disappears when the final sketch selections have been defined.

As a medium, comics afford the possibility of visually representing and voicing elements of the culturally callous and grotesque, the perverse and the raucous, and the sacred or taboo elements of everyday life.  Often veiled in political correctness, comic narratives bring unspoken voices to the forefront, in philosophical, political, and social commentary.  Using the playfulness of comedy and whimsical imagery, comics have a way of underscoring social uneasiness, anxiety, and the hypocrisies embodied in the human condition.  Seemingly inconspicuous, illustrations are, in practice, duplicitous and clandestine; commonly understood as adolescent and inane, yet often concealing poignant social criticism.  The drama that unfolds through textual and illustrative narratives acts as a counter-fire for the socially marginalized.  What becomes even more evident is the ability to show imbalance rather than merely tell, granting more autobiographical freedom and the opportunity to connect emotionally with alternative perceptions of reality.

Self-published and underground comics have historically cultivated a place for the expression of cultural eccentricities, abnormalities, and deviant forms of thought.  In many instances, artists purposely sought to offend and transcend taboo subjects.  Ideological backlash towards Conservatism in the 1960s realized an undercurrent that would bolster the dissenting attitudes amongst American cartoonists.  As resentment built towards the restriction surrounding creative expression, previously ‘inappropriate’ fantasies surfaced in counterculture comics, further dismantling an already crumbling belief in formalism, and broadening the depiction of marginalized subjectiveness.

With an almost ‘confessional’ poise, graphic narratives channel the weight of existential misery with boldness and honesty, providing artists and readers with both therapeutic means and ends.  Autobiographical content has become a defining trait in the comic realm.  Melding fictional and non-fictional narratives into potent social commentary Blue Line displays the physical and metaphorical burden of the artists’ psychological projections, showcasing a combination of cultural commentary and subjective experience.  This exhibition includes work from Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Guy Delisle, Jill Stanton, and Connor Willumsen among others.

Blue Line is organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and guest curated by Michael Campbell, Janice Rahn, and Jarrett Duncan.  Funding assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the City of Lethbridge.  We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. – See more at:

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