Monday, October 12, 2015

A Cool Idea - Lawren Harris, The Idea of North

Mount Lefroy Lawren Harris
I like being reminded of North. Never more so than at the tail end of a late season heat wave while living in a hot, dry, congested city like Los Angeles. Lawren Harris's paintings do a remarkable job of transcending summer at the newly opened exhibition at the Hammer Museum titled, The Idea of North.

Mountains Near Jasper Lawren Harris 
To many of us here in the Northern Hemisphere, the idea of north means cool, cold, snow. It may also mean remote, and isolated.

Isolation Peak Lawren Harris
The blues are strong, the shadows deep. The whites are made of many pale shades of yellow, gray, violet, and even green.


Included among the large paintings were smaller versions; studies and variations. Many of them painted on beaver board; once a trademark, beaver board is a compressed fiberboard.

In Buchanan Bay, Ellsmere Island Lawren Harris
Arctic Sketch XXII Lawren Harris

Harris's paintings admirably restrained, simplify form. These landscapes are refined to essential shapes and subtle palette choices, giving us the peace and space we crave.

This refinement has not reduced the sense of scale and strength. Harris has not left out the sense of awe and sweeping grandeur and immensity these landscapes evoke.

Lawren Harris

2 comments:

Robert Blake said...

I've ALWAYS liked Canada's "Group of Seven"'s work. And although I appreciate Steve Martin tooting a horn for this guy and boosting interest and attendance to the upcoming solo show, I have to throw in my 2 cents and say that doesn't make him a Curator.

Katherine Kean said...

That's a good point Robert, and there was an article about just that in today's LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-hammer-steve-martin-20151010-story.html

Steve Martin acted as co-curator with Hammer director Ann Philbin, and I think it's interesting that according to the article Ann Philbin wasn't familiar with Harris work until seeing one of Harris's painting at Steve Martin's house.