I recently visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to see it’s latest exhibition, The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris. Here are some of my thoughts on the show.
Of all the art shows to come to Toronto this year, none had me more excited than The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris. I finally got to see it a few days ago and as I had expected, it was impressive.
The exhibition, which is broken into three parts, begins with work inspired by life in one of Toronto’s poorest neighborhoods, the Ward. It was there that Harris cut his teeth as an artist, and as such, the paintings at the beginning of this section bear little resemblance to those at the end. They’re all good, but the later ones are better.
The middle section stands in stark contrast to the first and contains some of Harris’s most beloved work. The paintings here were inspired by Canada’s arctic, and owing to that, are sparse in nature and grand in scale. Although a bit cold (no pun intended), they are strikingly beautiful and provide a nice escape from the summer heat.
The final section represents yet another shift for Harris and the works on display are mostly abstract. While I can appreciate his artistic evolution, I liked these paintings the least.
If I’m being honest, this exhibition isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more info on Harris because as great as the paintings were, I didn’t leave knowing much more about him than when I entered. That said, I suspect that for most folks, the artwork itself will be more than enough – there were a lot of people when I went, and they all seemed engaged.
The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until September 18, 2016. I highly suggest you go.