Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Tom Thompson

Tom Thompson, Birch Grove, 1915-16, (Source)

Tom Thompson, Decorative Landscape Birches, 1915 (source)
I don't think I've posted about Tom Thompson yet, I can't think why, his paintings are among my very favorite, the ones that stand out as highly influential when I think of all my 'inspiration artists'. He's commonly associated with the Canadian 'Group of Seven', though he was never officially a part of the group- he was seen a mentor to them, and he died rather mysteriously quite young, in 1917, before the group really came to seen as a "group".  He only made paintings for a short time, but his works are incredibly well known in Canada, and part of our collective art history in a very special way.

One of my dream vacations would be to pilgrimage to the National Gallery of Canada to see as many of his works as I can, I've been there before but not since I studied art- and I think that would make all the difference. I love the light in his paintings, the reddish gold quality of it- the way he paints the sky as though it's fragments of light, very appropriate to the Canadian landscape.

There is of course a group of people who feel that the Group of Seven did a disservice to Canada, by painting it as though it were an empty landscape- no people, unpopulated, even though it was populated- by Aboriginal people. If you look at the paintings through that lens yes you can object to the idea of Canada as a great wild area- with rugged scenic places, and pristine forests, which were first available to human eyes through colonization. Though I understand those critiques, I also think that the idea of Canada as a rugged wild place is surely true, even today, all it takes is a short drive north and you can be ensconced in a place in which People seem absent (even though they might not be actually absent).

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