How does one contain the vastness of the Canadian North onto canvas or board? Some great mind has to invent a way to distill hundreds of kilometers into a handful of meters. It’s an enormous task yet Lawren Harris tackled it and won. Each of his hauntingly beautiful landscapes from this period, phase two of his career according to Steve Martin and the curators, are localized pointers to immensity. Windows to an infinite that can only be imagined in art.
So ‘Pic Island‘ is an idealized island that can colonize the minds of everyone lucky enough to see it with that symbol of islandness. ‘Mount Lefroy‘ can do the same miraculous thing for mountains and alpine glaciers. And Icebergs. And even dead trees. That’s why I enjoy Harris’ work so much and what he does for me, someone he never met. He makes me fall in love with icebergs, mountains, islands. Dead trees too.
Those paintings shout at my eyes.
That does it for phase two.
Phase 2.3 was not well represented with Harris work. It was almost an afterthought of his modernist urban landscapes. I didn’t get a lot out of them. Perhaps because that whole promised great future thing is not something I’m susceptible to any more and you can feel free to blame the fact that I write science fiction.
There were three videos in the exhibit. One with Steve Martin that I didn’t watch because the timed nature of the exhibition made me feel rushed: I figured I could watch that online later anyway. The other two videos were interesting. One was a Harris theosophic dream and another of Niagara water pounding down on very Harris-like ice and rock.
And that was it for ‘The Idea of North’ exhibit. Tomorrow I’ll continue with the spiritual shock Karen and I encountered in a set of rooms when we went looking for an exhibit down on the first floor.