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Amy Dryer: Algonquin

May 4, 2016

Algonquin Amy by Chelsea

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.

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