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Pacific Coast Paintings

In Toronto, it’s often difficult to appreciate the beauty of nature. It’s a particular challenge to envision the monumental, untamed wilderness thousands of kilometres away on Canada’s West Coast. But a major exhibition opening March 3 at the Art Gallery of Ontario should remedy that. Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon showcases almost 200 works by the maverick British Columbia painter and writer. Famously called the “mother of modern arts” by members of the Group of Seven, Carr is best known for her depictions of Western Canada’s expansive natural landscape and First Nations communities. Many of these striking images are included—from the “French Style” paintings that vividly documented BC’s coastal villages and defined Carr’s early career, to her later, more focused images of the hinterland, influenced by Lawren Harris. Visitors will also see the artist’s journals, caricatures and self-portraits, and a partial reconstruction of the 1927 exhibition that introduced her work to the rest of Canada. This thorough examination provides a contemporary context by which to understand Carr’s true importance—not only as a pioneering modern artist, but also as a sensitive cultural tourist and observer of an increasingly industrialized environment.—Craig Moy

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