Carleton University Art Gallery CUAG

Leslie Reid: A Darkening Vision

Curated by Diana Nemiroff

30 August – 30 October 2011

This solo exhibition traces a career that spans more than three decades. Selected from a much larger body of work by Ottawa painter Leslie Reid, the paintings presented are grouped thematically by air, earth, and water. “Air” sets works from the 1970s, liminally abstract, delicately nuanced paintings of the skies over Grand Calumet Island in the Ottawa River valley alongside recent paintings of Cape Pine on the southernmost tip of the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland, where thick, enveloping fog creates its own palpable whiteness. “Earth” groups paintings from the artist’s travels in France, England, and California during the 1980s and early 1990s. “Water” spans a lengthy period from the mid 1990s to the end of the first decade of the present century, when Reid was focused more narrowly on family property in Cantley, Quebec, and returns to the Ottawa River towards the end.

For Leslie Reid, the sensory experience of the landscape is deeply imbued with feeling. Although she has always worked from photographs, her intention has never been photographic objectivity. What interests her are the perceptual and psychological sensations provoked by the experience of a particular place. The landscapes she is attracted to extend from Calumet and Cantley, places with which she has had a long personal connection, to less familiar sites where the quality of the space and light and the signs of human presence on the land are held in equilibrium. Whereas the sense of a lived connection with the natural phenomena of air, earth, and water is a constant in her work, over time her vision has darkened, both literally, in response to a particular place and in a deepening emphasis on the fragility of the human connection. The sense of wilderness, real or imaginative, and with it the anxiety of survival, is never completely absent from her work.

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