ARTHUR LISMER, O.S.A., R.C.A.
Private Collection, Montreal
Beginning in the 1950s, Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) spent summers in British Columbia finding inspiration in the unique natural environment of the west coast. There he created a number of paintings of the British Columbia forest interior. These intense sketches are steeped with a distinct sense of place supported by the artist’s penchant for the descriptive and lyrical depiction of B.C.’s lush vegetation. Some works gravitate towards abstraction and liberation of form through gestural and layered brushstrokes.
In Dark Forest, Lismer has strategically cropped the trunks at the extreme right edge of the painting evoking the density of the old-growth forest. An exciting tension is created when these dark vertical elements - the trunks - are slashed diagonally by rays of light that have penetrated the dense forest canopy illuminating the dark forest below - a metaphysical moment. In a place where change is measured incrementally in decades, centuries or millennia, two leafy branches painted forcefully in strong bright red-orange and some wild growth at the lower edge suggest the passing of time through the changing seasons.