David Milne: Modern Painting And: Site Unseen
Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery’s summer exhibition features a large collection of the paintings of David Milne, an experimental, contemplative Canadian artist and contemporary of the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson and Emily Carr. The works span a 50 year career, beginning with his move from a small Canadian town to bustling New York City in 1903, to the European war zone following World War I, and back to his rural routes in both Canada and the United States.
Milne’s arrival in New York coincided with a period of astounding artistic experimentation. Modern painters, including Monet, Matisse, Cezanne and Picasso held their first exhibits at that time and Milne would have seen them all. His watercolours were decidedly modern as well. He was interested in colour, form and line, even rearranging the letters on street signs so they could not be read. He was featured in a major exhibit and was making a name for himself, but then backed off and decided to spend time out of the city.
The exhibition continues chronologically from room to room. The second room features a seated figure, all very different, although all are of his wife. Another room, “Into the Woods” includes paintings which are almost abstract, highlighting colour, line and the beauty of a micro-landscape.
photo: Stephen Topfer, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Milne trained for the military and was ready to go overseas, but the war ended before his tour of duty began. We went to Europe anyway in order to document the empty battlefields and general devastation. Because he was working quickly, he was mastering the art of using very few brush strokes to capture a mood as well as developing a new technique called “the drybrush”.
photo: Michael Cullen
Returning from Europe, he moved to a small town, where he build a cabin and began painting more tranquil landscapes, including one of his favourite pieces, “The Waterfall”. From this time forward, he continued to experiment with colour, composition an line, painting the Canadian landscape in an original way.
photo: Leif Norman
artist: Lorraine Gilbert photo: Judy Robb
Contemporary artists continue to experiment, often using new tools to push the edges of what we think of as ‘art’. “Site Unseen” complements the David Milne exhibit by highlighting the work of contemporary artists who capture landscapes using current media such as film, video and photography. The installations suggest reality, but venture beyond it with abstractions, innovative use of colour and distortions.
artist: Laura Dutton photo: Judy Robb
Article: Judy Robb