I’ve made three visits in the last couple of months to one particular exhibit at the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) and I suspect I will be good for at least two more visits before the show closes on February 20 2012. The show is State of Nature, Western Canadian Landscape Painting in the AGA collection, 1980 to the present. This exhibit is running concurrently with a couple of other complementary painting exhibitions Prairie Life: Settlement and the Last Best West 1930-1955 (just until 2012 January 29) and a Passion for Nature, Landscape Painting from 19th Century France.
While the Passion for Nature exhibit is larger and with some big names would probably be considered the more prestigious exhibit, I must say that State of Nature is my favorite! State of Nature features nine large works by Alberta and Saskatchewan artists. The paintings are bold and strong, some tending towards abstraction but all recognizable as landscapes and certainly capturing the essence of the landscape from the Western Canadian prairie and parkland. There were a couple of paintings that really connected with me, invited me to sit down in front of them, to absorb the atmosphere and be transported to a different place. One of these was David Alexander’s Swags in a Northern Swamp. This large (approximately 3 by 4 meters) piece features a dominant foreground swamp with reflections in the mid-ground.
My favorite piece in this exhibit is Rockface, Quiet Bay 2008 by Gregory Hardy. This large work dominates one’s field of vision with a rocky landscape refelcted in a lake. the colors are rather subdued but with a few exciting dabs of orange.
If you happen to be in Edmonton, with an opportunity to visit the AGA before February 20th be sure not to miss this exhibit. It is interesting in its own right but especially so when seen against the 20th Century French paintings and the other current AGA exhibits.