Ahoy, ahoy there!

Today’s class was a different format than our other ones, we had a panel on the Group of Seven, presented by three of my classmates, and it got me thinking, what do people think about the Group of Seven?  One girl presenting said that she really disliked the Group and didn’t find their work to be overly impressive.  I truly adhere to the idea that the Group has been somewhat romanticized, but I do believe that happens with all artists everywhere.  Once you’ve made it into the canon, you’re a celebrity, you’re famous.  You’ll die and people will still be talking about you, analyzing your work, and trying to find newfound meanings and messages in your work.  There will always be a new theory, a new viewpoint that someone will be “discovering” because art is so subjective.  How we interpret things and how they hold meaning to us is so dependent on our own experiences with people, places and things.

A few people in class said that the Group’s paintings were not representative of how Canadians interact with their environment.  I would have to disagree.  It was pointed out that “we all live in cities or near cities that hug the USA border”.  For me, this is not true.  I come from a tiny northern BC town, and one of the biggest allures of tourism up north, is the fact that there is no one around, it’s not near big cities and people are able to truly appreciate nature and landscape for what it is.  I think that the Group wanting to portray this landscape to others as how Canada is isn’t really a case of it being “false”.  When you look at tourist photographs or postcards from Northern BC, so often they are scenic pictures of mountains, trees, rivers…without a soul to be seen.  The Group’s work reminds me of an early tourism, they have even said themselves that they “love this country, we love exploring this country”.

And indeed they did explore it, and capture what they saw and felt in paint.  Maybe I’m a bit too romantic or lenient or soft in my critique, but I do think that the Group was just trying to simply paint–I just can’t see there being ulterior, supremacist motives, or instances of them trying to make it look as though they were outcasts of the art world.  I think they really were just 7 guys with a few friends who liked painting and the outdoors.  Canada was new, it was an adventure waiting for them, and off they went.  To record what they saw and to bring it to you.

North Shore of Lake Superior by Lawren Harris

The West Wind by Tom Thomson

And now with these images, I bid you goodnight!