Last night a lovely Yelp friend, Chris P, took me along as his guest to a member preview of Black Ice: David Blackwood Prints of Newfoundland. I didn't know much going in except for it was the work of a Canadian artist, and that I found the main promotional image extremely evocative.
Overall, the exhibit is very tight - it presents an excellent picture of the artist and his work. I can't recall exact dates of the works, but it seems to work pretty well chronologically, as well as thematically. (I should have paid a bit more attention to this!) I enjoyed the fact that the further I got into the exhibit, the better I got to know the artist and his portrayal of Newfoundland; much of the exhibit is peppered with objects that help highlight the artist's portrayals - weapons, items of clothing, oil lamps and the like. As you look around the last room, things like the artist's letters and notes and objects like a shed door and a ship's bell help to complete the picture. You get a very strong sense of the Maritimes from this exhibit, and I took that away just as much as I took an appreciation for the amazing detail of Blackwood's art.
I can't wrap my head around the effort that goes into creating copper etchings for print-making. The concept and execution is completely beyond my non-arty knowledge (I always leaned more toward photography in art class anyhow). One small room in the exhibit focuses on the amazing print of Fire Down on the Labrador (the main promotional image I linked above) - starting from the conceptual sketch, you follow the progression of the work through its steps, all displayed in a small path along the wall, culminating in the final (amazing) print. It's a fantastic thing to be able to see an artist's process like this. In addition, a small display case in the centre of the room contains the copper etching, as well as tools and materials used to create the etching. This brings the art to life so much more for an art-pleb like me, seeing the physicality and process behind a piece of work. I suppose it's a fairly unique thing to have in an exhibit of an artist's work, and the AGO are lucky that they've had such great access to the artist and his collection.
Although some of the subject matter tends toward the bleak side, the aesthetic of Blackwood's art is bold and stark. It's visually rich and detailed, and every print really has its own sense of atmosphere. If you're in Toronto and able to visit, I highly recommend it - not only will you get to check out this fantastic art, but also get a great sense of Canadiana at the same time.This entry was originally posted at http://nicole.dreamwidth.org/537095.html. Feel free to read & comment either here or there with OpenID.