love of landscapes – ottawa citizen – december 2012

Ottawa Citizen | By Peter Simpson | December 13, 2012

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Trio of exhibits worth a tour.

“Ever charming, ever new, when will the landscape tire the view?” That question was asked by Welsh painter and poet John Dyer in the early 1700s, which 300 years later, makes the only sensible answer, “not any time soon.”

The art-buying public has an infinite appetite for landscape paintings of all kinds, from the classicism of a Constable to the surrealism of a Miro to the hyper-realism of a Colville. The greatest landscapes satisfy by showing us familiar settings in ways we’ve not seen them before, perhaps glorious or perhaps mysterious and always, somehow, wondrous.

Ottawa’s ByWard Market is, this month, awash in landscapes, with exhibitions under way in several commercial galleries. Seen together in a single afternoon – easily accomplished, as they’re all within a few blocks of each other – they make for a worthy tour.

Colour is also key around the corner at Gordon Harrison Gallery (495 Sussex), where there’s a group exhibition of landscapes and plein air works by Harrison, René Tardif, Helmut Langeder and Normand Boisvert.

Harrison dominates the exhibition with his increasingly instinctive forest scenes.

The Ottawa painter, who has property in the Laurentians and travels across Canada for inspiration, has over the past decade gradually given himself over to colour and its place in nature.

His work is ever more impres-ionistic, as Harrison allows the colours to guide his brush and emerge as they will. In Laden Spruce and other new works there’s a turquoise green in the tall softwoods that would not have been seen in his work a few years ago. There are also beautiful, pale blues in the snow of Morning Shadows and Pine Point Lakehouse that further testify to Harrison’s changing style.

The exhibition by Harrison et al, titled Les Manteaux blancs de l’hiver, continues to March 31.