Late November. Grey days. Early nights. The land seems it have lost its colour.
How welcome the viewing of the abstract landscape paintings of Kim Harrison and Carol Finkbeiner Thomas currently showing at the Westland Gallery in Old South. Together the artists present some 50 paintings creating a room full of light and warm and bright colours. Medium and light cadmium yellow, light rose and violet, shades of cadmium green, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, and patches of white immediately greet the eye.
Stand still amongst the paintings for a moment and you sense the ephemeralness of nature captured here, through abstracted landscape form. The work engages the viewer as you readily discern voluptuous and wispy clouds pierced with sunlight, fields and pathways of light and shadow, the rising mist in the morning, hazy evening sunsets, the distant and near horizons, the coming rain storm — fleeting romantic and rapturous moments of nature’s beauty; atmospheric moments that change instantly, sometimes dramatically, in a second.
Carol Finkbeiner Thomas’s palette creates a theatrical effect through contrasting pastel and opaque colours. Sensual whites and soft pinks and violets are placed against areas and suggestions of deep blues, greens and browns. She applies her paint in ways that hint at formations of land, sky, clouds, fields, ponds, rivers, lakes, forests — all seemingly in flux. Moving and changing cumulus clouds are brushed with hints of sunlight, shadows of clouds move over open fields and distant hills, sunlight and shadow are held momentarily in moving and still bodies of water. These are all scenes presented in deeply atmospheric colour fields that are blended, mixed or swirling into each other.
Kim Harrison`s surfaces are rougher, and the atmosphere created is harsher. He appears to use a palette knife to apply his paint, dragging the paint across the picture plane in short and long gestures. In this way he effects a dramatic edginess to nature’s beauty with choppy waters, harsh winds moving across fields dabbed with patches of brightness and light, hard rock faces, rugged terrain, and tumultuous cloud formations. Harrison’s paintings are both familiar and foreign as suggested by such titles as Port Franks, Windy Day and Port Franks, looking toward Kettle Point and Moytura 2 and Glencolumkille (places in Ireland). Layers of paint give the illusion of both depth and flatness, a shifting back and forth between foreground and horizon.
Despite the contrasts in application of paint, both artists’ paintings sit well with each other. As your view moves from one to the other, the effect is not jarring. Both artists present their love of drama and the fleeting beauty of nature captured through the play of light on the landscape. Finkbeiner Thomas has a softer touch, often using lighter pinks and violets, while Harrison uses more of the dark and heavy tones of browns and blues. Both artists, in capturing nature through abstraction and suggestion of things, and their use of the dramatic created through light and shadow, evoke the work of renowned theatrical landscape painter J. M. W. Turner, whose work is currently on exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
Kim Harrison & Carol Finkbeiner Thomas continues to December 5, 2015
Westland Gallery, 156 Wortley Road, London, Ontario
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