In the Dog House

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 12:00am

Yan Gallery Ends March 20

An art gallery that's open to dogs? Well, their masters are allowed on the premises, too, if they behave.

Beijing artist Bob Yan's latest exhibition In the Dog House is a tribute to the little snippets he observes in daily life - and that includes his canine friends.

'He also has a sweet sense of humour - innocent and human. His [compositional] angle is quite unusual,' says Yan Gallery's director Sonja Ballingal.

She says that there have always been dogs in Yan's life and in his paintings.

Over the years, little by little, they took centre stage for this cycle of dog studies, reminiscent in a comical way to Honore Daumier's clay portraits of parliament members in early 19th-century France. Each one has a distinctive personality. Matisse is one of the artist's professed influences. And this is evident in his exuberant use of colour: complimentary colours, contrasting colours, incongruous colours; it all comes together on the canvas.

'He is a great colourist,' Ballingal says. 'He is very confident in his use of colour ... it reflects his personality.

'I find that [in some portraits], people tend to have less character. He tends to put more character into his dogs. Some of them I find almost human-like.'

Careful scrutiny will show a white line around all his subjects. As in traditional Chinese paintings, the line is primordial. But here, instead of using black, it's white. This is an interesting play on traditional Chinese art and philosophy.

Definitely an exhibition for dog lovers.

Yan Gallery, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Sun, 1pm-5pm, 77 Wyndham St, Central. Inquiries: 2139 2345.