Thursday, March 18, 2010
Talk about Motion: Pine Wrack by Arthur Lismer
This painting reveals a natural world, which as Tennyson once wrote, was "red in tooth in claw". The tangled roots look like the wrack of horns on an elk. And like the horn wrack, the tangle of roots helps this tree to survive, and to hang on against great odds.
Why does that line of red vegetation along the cliff, below the tree, make me think of a bloody red mouth?
The ruggedness of the terrain and the windblown stormy sky is the antitheses of the romanticized idyllic paintings of Canada painted by earlier 19th century artists.
We're deep into the new Survival Canadian mythos in this work. No more family compactism no more Bishop Straughans or Whitby Lady's Colleges, or lawn bowling or lawn crochet parties on a summer Sunday afternoon.
Arthur Lismer, 1933
National Gallery of Canada
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