Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Jean Paul The Best

lemieuxWhile visiting family in Ottawa over the holidays, I stopped in at the National Art Gallery to see the Jean Paul Lemieux exhibit. I was unfamiliar with his work, but: Zowie.

People seem to love his funny block-faced people, but that's not what did it for me. It was his landscapes that I fell in love with. All of his horizons are slightly tilted, as if he cocked his head to the side like a dog in order to consider them fully. Or as if he was painting from an airplane swooping down low over the ground.

Anyway, there was a time when I considered landscapes, to use an art historical term, "boring." I found nurture so much more interesting than nature. But in recent years, I've really started to love gazing at forests and farmlands and single, solitary Jack pines. I've come up with the following theory to explain it: Landscapes are mental self-portraits. You see the land the way the painter sees the land. It’s like you are in his head.

When someone is painting something interesting or specific, like a person or a scene, you get distracted by the subject. But landscapes are so banal and inherently bland that you can really focus in how the painter is seeing rather than what she is seeing.

Looking through Jean Paul Lemieux's eyes, I felt we were fairly simpatico as human beings. Judging by the Quebec artist's popularity, a lot of people must relate to his cool, compassionate and slightly cocked mental landscape.

The exhibit Homage to Jean Paul Lemieux -- organized to mark the centenary of his birth -- closed in Ottawa on Saturday, but re-opens at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec on February 10. As if you needed another reason to visit Quebec City during Carnaval...

And in Theatre news...

- Over at Torontoist, I've posted a list of nine Toronto plays I liked in 2004 -- not the best, just some I felt like noting while going over my notes for the year.

- Also, Kim Cattrall on the London stage playing a paralysed woman who has no feeling beneath her neck? Talk about casting against type...

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