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Frances Thomas, “It Only Rains In the Middle”, 2016, 150x150 cm, acrylic paint and ink on canvas

Frances Thomas
In Pursuit: Contemporary Abstraction and Persuasion

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 6, from 7 – 9 pm (Artist in Attendance)
Exhibition Dates: April 6th to 22nd, 2017

Peter Robertson Gallery is pleased to present In Pursuit: Contemporary Abstraction and Persuasion, Frances Thomas’ third exhibition at the gallery. The focus of this show is on work she completed over three months at a self-directed residency in Berlin in 2016.

Frances Thomas in an email exchange with Peter Robertson, 2017:

“I am in deep trouble. It is week three in Berlin and I have become quite destabilized. On the one hand, it is a desirable aspect of doing a residency in an unfamiliar place, a way to confront and push yourself as an artist. And on the other there is the terrifying reality of working through such a condition. In her book A Field Guide to Getting Lost author Rebecca Solnit suggests that to never get lost is to never live and goes on to say “to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery. And one does not get lost but loses oneself, with the implication that it is a conscious choice, a chosen surrender, a psychic state achievable through geography. That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost”. Therein lies the exquisite tension of living a life of curiosity and enquiry.

I am in pursuit of images that are newly strange and exciting, and that feel real. By real I mean that in each work the paint, in its material substance and direction, and the image that arrives through an iterative process, have become genuine containers of emotional content. Art can be a vehicle of relation and connection; in fact, I am relying heavily on that as my pathway to intimate contact with others. So much of human interaction today has to do with competing and fleeting attention(s) and what many of us want is to feel genuine connection.

That now brings me to persuasion, not in terms of duress, but seduction. I am sitting out here in the ether (read: in the studio spending a lot of time alone) creating painted spaces that draw on themes of the mystical, nature and landscape, human fragility, joy and pain, love and loss, all the things it means to be human. These spaces are intended as meeting places that I am inviting/persuading the viewer to enter with me. That I use the language of abstraction has to do with its unique capacity for ambiguity and complexity, its truth telling ability (as in the way that fiction often is more direct than non-fiction), or how a poem, given its unique encryption, requires unravelling, like the slow and continuous unfolding of a painting, and with patience and curiosity we discover their mysteries, something profoundly enduring and all-encompassing, something to hold on to.”

Frances Thomas is a Canadian artist who works in painting and printmaking. Thomas holds both a BFA and MFA from York University, Toronto, ON. Her paintings were featured in a solo exhibition “but wait”, with an accompanying catalogue, at the MacLaren Art Centre, in 2009/10. In 2016 she spent three months in Berlin on a self-directed residency. Thomas works from her studio in Barrie, ON. She has exhibited in Edmonton, Barrie, Toronto and New York and her work is in the permanent collections of the MacLaren Art Centre and BMO.


12323 - 104 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5N 0V4
Phone: 780-455-7479

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday - Friday 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Appointments are available by request.

For more information, additional images, or interview requests, please contact Camille Robertson at 780-455-7479 or at

Frances Thomas, “It’s Time”, 2016, 60x60 cm, acrylic paint and ink on canvas





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