Elissa Barnard, At The Galleries, “Jordan Broadworth: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia”, Chronicle Herald, Halifax

Young artist Jordan Broadworth works in the post-conceptual era with somber, intriguing paintings about houses, history and art. Broadworth now has two shows in Halifax, a survey of earlier work at studio 21, to May 25 and 1993/94 works in a Bowerbird series at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, to May 29.

Guest curator Robin Metcalf writes: “Where his recent work has led to an exploration of ‘all-over form, alluding to Jackson Pollock. Broadworth feels a need for ‘dampening the fervor’ of the Abstract Expressionists assertion of personality”

Broadworth’s series at the AGNS is intriguing. The room is too small to really see these large works. They are flat surfaces in dull browns and blue-grays with architectural patterns of lovely, curving scrolls, curlicues and cornice shapes. There are echoes of banister, screen door and block glass. In ghostly white lines, Broadworth paints knots like slipknots and sheepshanks.

These references come from print sources - diagrams of knots, a catalogue of house ornaments. The paintings are flat and thin, but there is actually a lot of under-painting yielding meager flashes of fire and leaving a residue. Broadworth delightfully jolts the texture when he puts in paint-splattered slats of wood in window shapes in the canvas.

Before you read the catalogue, the paintings can and do speak of ghosts, old houses, layers of wallpaper and paint on old walls, and in the knots of ties between people. You think of entering an abandoned house, feeling ancient history, the traces of past connections, death and nostalgia.

This is an emotional response to what seems to be largely an intellectual and material pursuit. Metcalfe’s essay is very clear. Broadworth’s mentor is abstract expressionist Ron Shuebrook (he seems to get his fine control of space and style of surface from Shuebrook). Also visible are the influences of teachers Gerald Ferguson in the use of stencils, old boards and somberness, and of Alex Livingston in the decorative, organic lines, However, Broadworth has his own sensibility; these paintings have a quiet, haunting beauty.