Thursday, October 20, 2011

'Point Atkinson Lighthouse of West Vancouver'' is a delightful Donald Flather work.  First and foremost, before I begin this critique, its important to know that Donald was employed outside the arts, as a teacher, throughout his life.  So, we find within Flather's website gallery, a wide variety of works from different stages of his development.

By way of background, Donald was known to have been a friend of Lawren Harris's and he enjoyed an association with 'The Group of Seven', which has led many to identify him with the group - an identity which has similarly been given to the late Kenneth Gordon of Winnipeg; an artist who was also a lifelong teacher.  

Point Atkinson Lighthouse, straddles the boundaries of impressionism. On one hand it has the realistic qualities of a Kodak photograph with its strong reds and blues, and its accurate representation of the lighthouse with the keeper's home and cabin.  But that's pretty much where it ends.  
From what I have seen in looking through the Donald Flather Gallery, he was influenced by the impressionists.  And, its how Flather's impressionism takes us where he wants us to go.
There are two levels to this work. There is a level of idyllic beauty where the sea has a certain simplicity and organization in the way its waves line themselves up along the shore and the colour of the rocks reveals the artist's fine sense of colour interpretation.

The strength of this work is borne out of its contrast.  While we have simplicity, and lovely colours and an idyllic scene on one hand - Donald artfully gives us a deeper side.  Take a second to study the rocks around the lighthouse.  Look at the rocks between the house and the lighthouse.  The rocks take on a physical quality.  they have the look of muscle with cords of veins and tendons beneath the surface and this gives the viewer a sense of underlying brute power. 

Further examination shows us trees which are permanently bowed by the power of a single direction wind, and rocks which have been eroded by millennia of pounding waves.

Please click here to view more of Donald Flather's paintings.

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