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Kay Woods

Ted Godwin
Bau-Xi Gallery, Toronto, April 7 - 26, 1979

artscanada #226/227, May/June 1979.
[ 410words ]


The latest exhibition by Ted Godwin at the Bau-Xi Gallery is a continuation of the landscape images first seen in his Western Summer series a year ago. For the past decade Godwin's Tartan paintings have distinguished his work from that of other Canadian artists. In relinquishing this purely abstract format he seems to have stepped back into the past to take as his primary influence Canada's most famous landscape artists, Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. The three large canvases shown along with a number of woodland scenes in watercolour have strong affinities with early or pre-Group of Seven work in both colour and design. I was reminded of Northern River, the 1915 painting by Tom Thomson, with its row of trees in the foreground providing a screen through which one views the land beyond, and of the bright bold colours seen in Group of Seven work.

Each of the canvases contains two distinct modes of painting, and some of the charac-teristics of Godwin's early work can still be discerned. A relatively small portion along the top of each canvas is devoted to depicting the typical northern shoreline prevalent in early Group of Seven paintings of Algoma or Georgian Bay. In Bow River and Late Fall, Battle Creek, the two best-resolved paintings, a fallen birch tree is the means used to separate the traditionally painted landscape and its reflection in the water. It is in the area of the reflected image handled in an abstract way that Godwin's individualism emerges. Here the grid pattern of his Tartans is transformed by the application of a translucent acrylic wash, reminiscent of Morris Louis's veils, which seems to function like a curtain on which to hang flatly painted horizontal bars of colour.

The same division of the pictorial space was used in Godwin's watercolours, but these were less sensational paintings, perhaps because of the watercolour medium itself, or because of the more subdued colouration. On the other hand the extremely large size of the canvases, approximately 8' x 6's, gave them a presence one could not ignore. Their size enabled the viewer to enter into a new environment and experience the artist's unique concept of nature.


artscanada #226/227, May/June 1979.


Text: © Kay Woods. All rights reserved.


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