Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Playing tourist in Toronto again - Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) - Lawren Harris

I am visiting Chris and Jason in Toronto, doing some tourist stuff and some painting for them. Today I got up and out the door with Chris (on her way to work). She walked me through how to use the bus, subway and streetcar to get to the AGO. Even highlighted the route on the TTC map.
Chris told me I would recognize the gallery because it looks like a big, gleaming, upside down boat on Dundas St.
The modern facade reflects the old neighborhood on the other side of the street.
Although I have never been to the AGO and love art galleries, this exhibit is what prompted me to finally visit.
This Lawren Harris exhibition is also traveling in the United States. The point was made that although he is considered an iconic Canadian painter he is little known in the States.
The first section featured "The Ward", an area, in Toronto, where Lawren Harris painted many of his early professional works. Later this area was redeveloped as Nathan Phillips Square.
Many of the paintings depicted poor, immigrant residential areas overshadowed by manufacturing and industrialization. Usually there was a figure or two.
Most of the paintings depicted winter, dismal weather or smog but some where of clear days and bright colours.
What I recognize as his style is developing in his Toronto paintings.
Undulating snow and huge skies.
The second section of the display was works that are set in more natural surroundings, Lake Superior,
Baffin Island and
the Rockies.
There were videos of interviews with the curators and Lawren Harris experts as well as his pencil sketches and oil sketches.
His pencil sketches included notes regarding colours.
Mnt Lefroy, sketch. His oil sketches experimented with colour, composition and abstraction.
Also Mnt Lefroy.
Final Mnt Lefroy painting.
I had, and still have, a limited amount of knowledge regarding Lawren Harris and his work. It was inspiring to see so much of his work in one place and the progression of his style. I saw a couple of his paintings that I had admired in print form and loved seeing the originals and being able to take close up photos of brush strokes and techniques.

The third section, from when he moved to the U.S. to teach, showed his continued move into abstraction.
Toronto's new city hall was built 30 years after he painted this.
Still vestiges of mountains.
I hope to rug hook a "Lawren Harrisesque" rug so took lots of close ups of water, sky, icebergs and snow. I spent an hour and a half in the exhibit and although I was there on a Tuesday morning it was quite crowded and I had to wait to read information on the wall or for the area to clear enough for me to take a picture.

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