As shan shui hua did in China, landscape art has played a major role in early Canadian art history. During the 1920’s, the Group of Seven painted the “wilderness” of Canada: their work has been employed by government and institutions to create a unity narrative across the country, which still persists in the popular imagination today. Nevertheless, some contemporary Canadian artists, in a dialogue with their history of art, have transformed the landscape genre into a much more diverse practice.
A number of overlapping themes become apparent in this exhibition: the idea of an information landscape; explorations of the historical, cultural, political resonances of the genre; internal, imagined landscapes of a psychological nature; emotional and historical relationships to the land; and finally, meditations on our impact upon it.
As you experience this exhibition, consider what perception of Canadian landscape art is developing in your mind: has it changed from what you originally conceived? Consider too how Canadian landscape art compares to Chinese traditions and contemporary art of this type: what parallels and differences do you perceive? We hope this exhibition can create a rich and meaningful dialogue between Canadian art and Chinese art, one that can embrace both the past and present art of both nations, and awake an awareness of facing a shared reality. We now live in a radically changed world of nature, in a crisis which requires that we transform ourselves.