by Charlotte Karp
VANCOUVER – Emily Carr was born in Victoria in 1871 and went on to become one of the most influential North American artists of the 20th century. Combining her interest in Indigenous people and her natural artistic ability, her work provides the public with unique access to Aboriginal culture, with her post-impressionist images of abandoned villages, churches, and totem poles serving as a means of recording history — her artistic practice involved entering Aboriginal villages, developing rapport, and attempting to understand their way of life, and, as a result, we can still see the impact of colonialism on Aboriginal culture through her work today.
Carr’s eye-opening depictions of forests and trees, which are almost hallucinatory in appearance, are also interlaced with a deep-seeded spirituality native to her collections.
The avant-garde nature of Carr’s work depicting the coastal forest was the catalyst for the decision for the Vancouver Art Gallery to host a new exhibition commemorating her legacy. The VAG, home to one of the largest Carr collections in the world, is hosting a major exhibition titled Emily Carr: Into The Forest to celebrate her ability to affect the way we view the natural world.
Gallery curator Ian Thom says, “The decision to focus of forest subjects allowed the gallery to highlight one of the great strengths of our Carr holdings — the paintings of the ‘30s and early ‘40s, which are without parallel, in public hands.”
Thom says the exhibition concentrates on works from the VAG’s collection, but also includes loans of earlier works of a type not represented in the collection. One of the most important canvases of her career, “Gray,” is among the work presented by the gallery.
“Viewers can expect to gather a deeper appreciation of Carr’s enormous skills as a painter,” adds Thom. “Her remarkable use of myriad colours of green and brown, and her ability to convey the vitality and force of nature.”
Emily Carr: Into the Forest runs from May 13 – March 4, 2018 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.Emily Carr, VAG, Vancouver Art Gallery