Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic at the AGO
On now at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the exquisite exhibition Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic. Five years in the planning and scheduled to run concurrently with the Pan Am Games and Parapan Am Games 2015, the show takes visitors on a spectacular visual journey through the Americas.
The exhibition was organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo and the Terra Foundation for American Art. The 118 works on display were drawn from institutions around the world and offer glimpses of iconic landscapes that fire the imagination and dreams of exploration.
The paintings are primarily from the early 19th century to early 20th century, a period in which nations in the Americas asserted and gained their independence. From the tip of South America to Canada’s Arctic, explorers and artists tried to capture the essence of places and communicate national aspirations and identity. Later, artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Emily Carr and Lawren Harris would seek a spiritual, deeply personal connection with nature.
I spent several hours in this absorbing show, having fun spotting places I’ve been (Kakabeka Falls! Montmorency Falls! Niagara Falls!) and marvelling at vistas no one will ever see again, as they’ve long since been altered. But the exhibition is much more than a wander through a long-gone Garden of Eden. From environmental concerns to indigenous resurgence, the issues raised in Painting the Americas still loom today.
At the media preview held last week, Georgiana Uhlyarik, Associate Curator of Canadian Art at the AGO, said that the exhibition for her “has always been about belonging”. The take-home message for me was that, no matter where we belong in the Americas, we are all connected.
Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic is on at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, until September 20, 2015.