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“The Group of Seven in Western Canada”

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Victoria BC Jun 14-Sep 14, 2003

Arthur Lismer - Cathedral Mountain
Arthur Lismer, Cathedral Mountain (1928), oil on canvas
[Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC
Jun 14-Sep 14, 2003]

The Group of Seven was a self-described “national landscape school” of male painters who sought to express a truly Canadian identity in art. From 1920 when they began exhibiting to their final show in 1931, the Group produced several thousand artworks. They defined a new voice for Canadian art which had, to that point, relied on European stylistic impetus.

In search of authentic experience, members of the group hiked, canoed and – most memorably – worked from a sidecar delivered by rail to remote regions of the Canadian Shield. Here they found jutting promontories, wild weather, dense bush and pristine lakes. Such diverse landscape settings challenged and provoked the artistic spirit and skills of these former art teachers and commercial artists. The magnificent solitude of the wilderness stimulated a decade of vigorous painting.

The summer exhibition at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria was organized by the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. It presents little-known as well as popular works conceived in Western Canada. Better recognized for landscapes set in Eastern Canada, the Group found new inspiration in the mountainscapes, coastal terrain and prairies of the West. This wonderful show includes more than two hundred paintings and drawings by Lawren Harris, Frederick Varley, J.E. MacDonald, Frank Johnston, A.Y. Jackson, Edwin Holgate, Arthur Lismer and L.L. Fitzgerald.

© Mia Johnson

 Sat, Jun 7, 2003