Vincent van Gogh, Emily Carr and Claude Monet are some of the greatest names in art history. Now imagine an exhibit with those three artists as well as 33 other artists from around the world and you get the ‘Mystical Landscapes’ exhibit.
The internationality of the artists exhibited provides a wider view of the world. Although 12 of the 36 artists were from France, it still felt as though the exhibit moved across the globe, from Europe to North America and even some sentiments from Japan. There were even pieces that some may not consider a conventional landscape, with images of space, depicting planets, stars and other celestial bodies.
With six artists from Canada, most of whom Canadian students will know from middle school art class, the ‘Mystical Landscapes’ exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario was one of the most visually recognizable temporary exhibits for Canadians.
The exotic exhibit of landscapes from around the world was full of foreign names most people would find difficult to pronounce, but there were a number of familiar names such as Emily Carr, Tom Thompson and A. Y. Jackson. Most of these familiar names belong to members and associates of the Group of Seven. Tom Thompson, Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson and F. H. Varley were the artists from the Group of Seven featured in the exhibit.
The AGO already has a good collection of Group of Seven pieces, but the specific works in the ‘Mystical Landscapes’ exhibit seemed to bring a different feeling to the rest of their collection. The complementary audio tour also gave a lot of extra insight to some well-known paintings, such as ‘Isolation Peak’ by Lawren Harris. “If you’ve seen photographs of Isolation Peak, you’ll know that it is nothing like that. It’s part of a long mountain range. But here he has isolated it, taken it out of its larger context, and not only heightened it, but turned it into an almost perfect pyramid,” says Roald Nasgaard, the narrator for the audio tour.
Although five of the six exhibited Canadian artists were members or affiliates of the Group of Seven, the last one brings the art closer to the Durham Region.
Jock MacDonald, the other Canadian artist exhibited at the AGO, was a member of a local group of Ontarian artists called the Painters Eleven. MacDonald was suited for the exhibit because he was influenced by the Group of Seven and had a very similar style to theirs, except more towards abstract art. The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, downtown Oshawa, has the largest collection of Painters Eleven art and has a permanent display of their work in the gallery, including some landscape paintings.
Landscape paintings are easier to appreciate for people with a casual interest in art, those of us who aren’t necessarily art connoisseurs.
The art of recreating a landscape is open to interpretation. If people only considered an exact copy to be perfect then it would hardly be an art, but instead a science. ‘Mystical Landscapes’ uses the ability to use self interpretation to its advantage by showcasing different styles of art that all depict landscapes. This exhibit is a true case of there being something for everyone because the styles within the tour differentiate so greatly that nobody can dislike all the different pieces. The exhibit is now being dismantled and will be shipped back to the Musée d’Orsay for their opening in the spring.