Calgary Artwalk 2016 is less than a month away and we’re pleased to announce that we’ll have Amy Dryer here doing a live painting demonstration. Mark your calendars and make sure you join us on September 17th to see an extraordinary artist at work!
Publishers, Douglas & McIntyre, joined forces with author, Monique Westra, to compose the stunning new book, Chris Flodberg: Paintings. To celebrate, we’ll be holding a book launch and exhibition and sale of Chris Flodberg‘s work here September 22-October 1, 2016. In the meantime, come by the gallery to get your copy.
About the book:
Calgary artist Chris Flodberg is a virtuoso oil painter, a painter’s painter. He became known for his landscapes but has since tackled a startling range of themes: World War II warships, intimate interiors, post-apocalyptic banquets, abstracts, guard dogs and, most recently, ninety-six self-portraits in ninety-six different styles. These are monumental paintings that grab the viewer by the throat and demand attention.
Flodberg is inspired by art history, but the art he creates is his alone: visceral, intensely rendered, relentlessly probing, beautiful but often uncomfortable. An acutely self-aware painter, Flodberg places a high value on honesty. His art is a dazzling collection of self-portraits and statements on everything from war and greed to the blossoming trees on his street.
Chris Flodberg: Paintings brings together 160 of Flodberg’s paintings from his first two decades. It is accompanied by five essays by Monique Westra and short musings by the artist himself.
Masters Gallery and Masters Gallery Framing will be closed July 10th – 18th, reopening on Tuesday, July 19th. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to seeing you upon our return!
(Image: Patrick Douglass Cox, Bucket and Shovel, 2016, egg tempera, 16×12 in.)
Masters Gallery and Masters Gallery Framing Studio will be closed Friday, July 1st to celebrate Canada Day. We look forward to seeing you back here Saturday, July 2nd!
(Image: David Thauberger, Still Water, 2016)
Our congratulations go out to Ian Sigvaldason, Scott Steedman and Read Leaf Press for winning a Benjamin Franklin gold seal award for their book, Art for War and Peace. This is said to be the highest honour in America for independent publishers and an incredible feat for a Canadian book!
If you haven’t got your copy yet, we have the Art for War and Peace available in the gallery. For more information, you can visit the book’s website.
On May 14th, we’ll be hosting the opening of Amy Dryer‘s next exhibition and sale, Algonquin, where we’ll show paintings from her time in Algonquin Park. Here, she shares a few words about her experience:
To paint en plein air is a complicated and exhilarating experience that involves a simultaneous focus on the subject, the environment, and personal reinterpretation of that space. The process of distilling an immense amount of environmental detail down to its bare bones is part of what makes my practice so exciting. I am fascinated by the intricacy of the landscape; by the way it engages its visitor without effort, wrapping her in itself. I have long loved the Canadian land; though I live in the city, I have often traveled to lose myself in her grandeur and detail of the wilderness.
When I imagine Tom Thomson and the members of the Group of Seven, I think of their desire to leave Toronto and find themselves in Algonquin Park. I think of the cabin in the woods that my husband and I visited this past fall – a cabin Tom Thomson inhabited – and its haunting and rustic simplicity. I imagine Tom looking out the window of the little wooden structure, towards the lake, and I feel a sense of wonder at this connection.
When my husband, Aaron, and I traveled to Algonquin Park, we were surrounded by velvety black starry nights, canoes, and magnificent trees. A hundred years ago, this landscape was a symbol for a number of young Canadian painters – people with a vision for both their work and their interpretation of place. As a young female artist, I aimed to engage in this powerful and significant space myself. My focus was to immerse myself in the practices of Tom Thomson and members of the Group of Seven, and to paint – in my own way – a landscape of significant heritage.
I have been drawn to Tom Thomson’s way of painting, balancing abstraction and representation. His understanding of paint – its density and vulnerability, resting on the surface, representing a mark made in time – is powerful.
As a result, I both connected with art history, and the present moment. While being aware of Tom Thomson’s marks and movement in the space I was in, I too lost myself in Algonquin Park: a single tree, a glob of orange paint, a descending fall light, a canoe resting on the shore, a series of overlapping lily pads. I am continually drawn to moments that are both familiar and enigmatic, the mystery of a place sculpted and remembered through the eyes of other artists and the moment that I am painting in.
Algonquin will be at Masters Gallery from May 12th until May 21st. Visit our website for more information.
by Monique Westra
Bev Tosh’s most recent work is related to her acclaimed war brides project. The new paintings also depict young women during wartime dressed in the styles of the day. Body language remains a vital conduit of meaning. But they differ significantly from the war brides in their small scale, the canvas support and especially in their lack of specificity. These are not portraits. Their anonymity is in many ways liberating for the artist. Without the need to be faithful to the likeness of a particular individual, Tosh feels free to experiment and to take creative chances: “I wanted to express more than I wanted to refine. With the war brides I felt honour bound to create a likeness of that person.” These small paintings do not represent one particular woman on her wedding day, but all young women in that moment in history who, in spite of everything, still wanted to be stylish.
For the first time in 14 years, Tosh is painting on canvas again, albeit on a small scale. Using broad strokes, she starts by laying in a warm sepia-toned ground, unconcerned about covering the entire surface of the support. Glancing only briefly at a tiny black and white photograph as inspiration, she draws directly into the wet impasto, incising marks with a soft pencil. With just a few deft strokes, she quickly establishes the essentials of the pose and aspects of the clothing. Then, propelled by her growing excitement, she applies another layer of paint, in order to “search out” the form by enveloping it and shaping the emerging silhouette. In this way, the form seems to materialize from a swelling tide of Naples Yellow Light, which blends with the underlying and still wet sepia ground. She makes marks using brushes, rags and her fingers. The creative process is made manifest, as each step leaves active traces of the artist in its wake.
These small, precious paintings in their ornate frames are masterpieces of innuendo and suggestion. With virtually no detail, no setting, no context, two colours and just a few marks, each work is extraordinarily telling. We intuit from the clothing a particular historical period, namely the 1940s. We know from the contours of their silhouettes that these are women. We see from their body language and gestures that they are young. From their broad-shouldered heavy coats, their stance, raised shoulders and tight torsos, we sense the cold of winter. From their chic hats and fur-ruffled ankle boots, we note their elegance and grace. And yet, the images remain as fleeting and as enigmatic as memory, lost and found at the same time.
In 2011, Tosh created a huge group portrait of war brides using one unbroken length of wire. Now working on an intimate scale, she unfurls sinuous line drawings in wire. These loose and simplified figurative outlines are, like the sepia silhouettes, expressive of body language and just as elusive. In an inspired moment, Tosh affixed a little wire drawing to one of the paintings. The unexpected juxtaposition delighted her because it added yet another dimension to her work.
The war brides series, for which Bev Tosh is best known, was directly inspired by her mother, Dorothy, a war bride from Saskatoon who married a New Zealand airman. She died in 2012 at the age of ninety-one, having never spoken to her daughter about her experience. Yet, she continues to be the primary source for Prairie Girls. The exhibition includes several works that can be traced to her mother including a painting of a carefree and radiant newlywed, seated in an aura of golden sunshine; Prairie Girl, a vertical-format painting depicting a shy and smiling Dorothy, eyes obscured by the shadow cast by the tilt of her round hat; and Passage, a large, magnificently exuberant painting that captures her mother’s joy seated in a brilliant red canoe.
Tosh uses her mother’s 1940s photo album as a resource for her images. She was moved by a tiny photograph showing a trio of laughing girls. In Mirage, she transformed the source image by altering the poses and setting the figures in a reflective, beach-like setting. Using primarily oil sticks, Tosh created this spectacularly dynamic painting in a burst of spontaneous energy. In its layering, looseness, gestural marks, open contours, and vivid colours, it is strongly reminiscent of the late pastel works of Degas.
Prairie Girls will be on display at Masters Gallery in Calgary, April 18 until May 5, 2016.
Portraits in Sepia, Stories in Silk: Canada’s British War Brides will be on display in Canada House in London, England from May 5, 2016 until the end of June.