THE ORDER OF THINGS – Mira Godard, Toronto 2006


Gary Michael Dault – Gallery Going – Globe and Mail

The Order of Things by Vancouver-based painter Deon

The Order of Things by Vancouver-based painter Deon Venter is an exhibition of weighty, brawny, heavily textured paintings into which are scored decisive grids and stripes – an authoritative muster of what may seem at first to be simply pleasingly minimal compositions, both severe and also, at the same time, strangely delicate and ethereal in their effect.

If these compositions seem familiar, it’s because they actually are:  About half of them are Venter’s reworking and representation of the ubiquitous commercial bar code.  The other half are based on the artist’s compositional extrapolations from Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Last Supper (1495-1497)

For Venter, the bar code – which, according to his riveting notes on its history, was developed in the late 1940s – is both a source for “beautiful, minimal image revealing the language of modern culture and that of commerce” and, simultaneously, a more or less invisible identification and control mechanism which, while hiding in plain sight, can become the almost subliminally functioning means by which we can all be sorted and processed.

The artist’s gridded Last Supper paintings – which is to say, paintings of the perspectival grid that informs the structure of the Leonardo Painting – are Venter’s powerful graphic meditations on what he refers to as “the spiritual sensibility that still emanates from this abstract composition”. Venter has accomplished something quite unusual in The Order of Things: He has found two powerful, interrelated ways to make minimalist abstractions, and has then proceeded it previously the dry lose using adjustable to further imbue them with a great deal of “impure” but passionately felt humanist conviction – that resides somewhere in the very bones of their construction.