Ottawa photo-artist Rosalie Favell has an alter-ego and it’s none other than the supernatural cult heroine, Xena, Princess Warrior.
Images of the kitschy Xena pop up all over the place in Favell’s new photo exhibition at Cube Gallery. Favell poses as Xena, or places a small image of the Princess Warrior in the most unlikeliest of places, including the bedroom wall of little Dorothy (Favell, actually) awakening after her magical experiences in the land of Oz.
Originally from Winnipeg, Favell is not the only Canadian celebrity to appropriate Xena. Mary Walsh’s over-the-top CBC television character of Marg Delahunty, Princess Warrior, has for many years been wielding a sword, “smiting” Canadian politicians from the prime minister on down. Let’s just say Favell’s Xena has more class than Walsh’s loud-mouthed version.
Favell’s work is familiar to visitors to the National Gallery of Canada and its offspring, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, as well as Ottawa Art Gallery and Karsh-Masson Gallery. But Favell is not a regular at commercial art galleries in Ottawa, so this exhibition at Cube is a rare opportunity to purchase some of her work, which varies from mischievous to thought-provoking.
The exhibition contains work both old and new. My particular favourites are the tweaked images of Xena and a series of extreme close-ups of porcelain flowers used to decorate graves in France. The flowers have an otherworldly glow.
One photograph of a painting of the Virgin Mary looks very ordinary until you realize the face of the saint is actually the face of Favell’s mother. Nearby is a poster-sized image of Ganesha, the Hindu deity with an elephant’s head. But look closely: The body of Ganesha in this case is an image of Favell as child. That gal Rosalie/Xena really gets around
Many of the photo-works are a tribute to Favell’s late father Doug and his brother Gerry. As children, the two boys were inseparable. As adults, they died within a week of each other. Favell has paired old family snaps of the two boys with images of clouds, airplanes, and landscapes.
Favell won the 2012 Karsh Award, which is given every two years to an Ottawa photographer who has produced over the years an exceptional body of work. Favell certainly deserved that award.
The exhibition of Favell’s work at Cube Gallery continues until May 5. The vernissage takes place this Sunday, April 7, from 2-4 p.m. Cube is located as 1285 Wellington St. W.