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Abstracted Lenses: The Experience of Perception

Selections from the RMG’s permanent collection

June 07, 2013 - September 01, 2013

The 1930’s was an era of transition in Canadian art. The influence of European masters in the early 20th century had brought a sense of internationalism to Canada, while a new generation of American painters created a thirst for modernism. The conservative Canadian art world was long established on traditional, figurative works of art, particularly landscape paintings displayed in the collective work of the Group of Seven. Outside influences, however, meant that at the same time some artists were working to develop new forms of representation, offering a fresh approach. Abstracted Lenses explores the transition in Canadian art from the objective to the nonrepresentational, highlighting the processes involved and the pioneers who initiated abstract art in Canada.

Through experimentation, a few artists working in Canada aimed to purify art by fracturing, manipulating, and striping their subjects down to their core elements. Emphasizing a harmonious relationship between line and form, they were able to harness an ideal abstract quality, in essence re-imagining the perceived world around them. This innovative approach used colour as a vehicle to convey mood or atmosphere rather than signify an element of nature and an emphasis on overall design was favoured. The systematic process of non-figurative artwork sought to create a universal art form, which significantly helped awaken fundamentally new approaches to creative expression.

The exhibition includes selections from the RMG’s permanent collection featuring Henrietta Shore, Bertram Brooker, Jock Macdonald, and Kathleen Munn.

Curated by Brendan Coughlin