Ottawa School of art, Solo exhibition opening Sept. 10

New Canadian Landscapes

Vernissage:

Thursday September 10, 5 pm to 8 pm

Free to the public – Everyone welcome

Works will be on display from:

September 10 – October 9 2015

Artist Statement

My ongoing series of urban landscape paintings are informed by
Canadian artists of the past, their explorations of the uninhabited
northern wilderness, and how their depictions of this landscape helped
to define a Canadian identity. The most iconic paintings of the Group of
Seven and their contemporaries depicted a rugged and untamed version of
Canada devoid of human development; almost a century later, these
paintings still affect our collective understanding of a quintessential
Canadian landscape. These historical paintings serve to document a
specific place and time of a landscape, and over years have become a
symbolic vision of Canada: a country defined by its natural beauty.
These works still resonate strongly as an essential component of our
shared Canadian identity and read as an honest interpretation of the
country’s landscape. However, with over 80 percent of Canadians now
living in cities, not only is the Canadian landscape changing, but our
relationship to it is evolving as well. While our cities rapidly
encroach on the landscapes from which our painters once drew
inspiration, figuratively, we’ve never been more distant from that same
wilderness.

My work uses the urban landscape in two ways to address this altered
relationship with the landscape of our collective past. The first begins
with a depiction of the contemporary urban landscape: the building
facades and architecture, office parks, parking lots and streets. These
paintings frame an urban landscape that exists as a daily reality for
millions of people, and reflect that landscape back to the viewer as a
worthwhile contender for the mantle of “Canadian Landscape”. In my work
the essential Canadian landscape is not defined by nature, instead I
focus on a built urban environment. The landscapes in this exhibition
are depicted at night in order to dramatize and draw attention to
themselves, to separate them from their daytime utilitarian purposes,
and to focus on the aesthetic value of the urban landscape. By using
strong lighting and a shallow depth of field, a stage-like effect allows
the subjects to be separated from the dark background. My paintings
highlight or obscure distinct areas of the environment in an attempt to
simplify the scene to its essential elements and present my
interpretation of the landscape to the viewer for consideration.

The second group of paintings in the exhibition question if our
artistic representations of the landscape have kept pace with the
urbanization of Canada over the last century. By inserting images of
famous Canadian landscape paintings into an urban setting, my paintings
show the viewer two contrasting depictions of Canada. I begin with a
building facade of modern architecture, a commonplace element of the
contemporary urban landscape. Inserted into the interior spaces of that
building are re-creations of quintessential Canadian landscape paintings
that embody all of the mythology, aspirations, and idealism of Canadian
art of the past. The contrast between these historic paintings and the
modern landscape creates a new context, which emphasizes the work’s
inherent idealism and distinctiveness from the built environment. The
scaled-down versions of Canadian art, often familiar and nostalgic, are
separated from the viewer on the outside looking inwards. The viewer of
the painting becomes a voyeur in the scene, looking at the artistic
representation of nature hanging on the wall as we do the natural
landscape in our daily lives: from a distance.

In the same way that an urban dweller of today must travel to visit
the landscape out of the city, the art lover visits the museum to see
past depictions of Canadian landscapes. As we continue to urbanize as a
nation, we must travel both further in distance to visit natural Canada,
and in our art, we must travel further back in time to find depictions
of the landscape that match this experience.

My hope is to address the tension between the art that presents
itself as an authentic representation of Canada in contrast to the
contemporary urban landscape that is present around us; to question if
those paintings of our past still hold resonance today, or if they are
anachronistic images in need of updating.








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