It is a unique privilege to witness a near-lifetime’s work by an artist, let alone being able to hold it in your hand. For Tom Forrestall, the roots of his practice as one of Canada’s most respected artists begins in the pages of books like these – now a collection of more than 330 sketchbooks that span 65 years, and that continue to grow by pages every day and volumes every month. These books, part of a gift to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, are a sampling of his entire sketchbook collection, and we are fortunate and honoured to be the stewards of such a significant artistic treasure.
Forrestall’s practice of rigorously using sketchbooks to capture visual inspirations began as a teenager in Middleton, Nova Scotia, in the early 1950s. Since then, he has meticulously carried such a book with him at almost all times, laying line and colour to paper to work out study concepts, inspire his more substantial artistic works, or simply record what he was seeing at that particular moment.
As his son William, also an artist, asserts, his father’s personal sketchbooks “are one of the most remarkable collections of artist’s notebooks in the world.” Forrestall’s dedication to studying his environment through these pages attests to his commitment to reflecting on our world, and to his boundless creativity.Tom Forrestall – Sketchbooks of a Lifetime
Taking visitors on a three-decade journey of collecting, this exhibition in the Masterpiece in Focus series explores the relationship between collector A. K. Prakash and his artist of choice, James Wilson Morrice, weaving the intricate story of the artist with that of the collector. Pioneering a fresh and vibrant use of colour, and known for his delicate handling of paint on small-scale wooden pochades, Morrice played a vital role in advancing modern artistic trends in Canada and abroad at the turn of the 20th century. The stories around his widespread travels and rise to fame as one of Canada’s most beloved modernist painters are shared through the passion of an avid collector who was determined to understand, celebrate and preserve the artist’s legacy for all Canadians.
Dan Xu, originally from China, paints the landscapes around her new home in Saint John using a process that has remained largely unchanged in the hundreds of years since the Tang Dynasty. And yet, she is still learning and perfecting it every day, drawing inspiration from the Saint John River Valley and the Bay of Fundy. Dan Xu creates her New Brunswick landscapes using inks, washes, and a finely tapered brush on handmade paper. From her artistic vision, and shaped by her Chinese brush painting technique, our familiar province becomes beautifully new and unknown. Her re-imagined, scenic New Brunswick surprises and delights us with a newcomer artist’s perspective on her new home province.
This major retrospective celebrates Alex Janvier’s 65-year career of creativity, knowledge and perspective, gained through his love of the land, art and Dene culture. Featuring more than 100 remarkable paintings and drawings from public and private collections across Canada, including well-known masterpieces as well as pieces that have never been on public display, it is the largest and most comprehensive retrospective on the artist to date. The artist’s unique paintings, with their vivid colours and calligraphic lines, combine Denesuline iconography with Western art styles and techniques, such as automatic painting and modernist abstraction. Exploring the geocultural landscape of Janvier’s northern Alberta home, his works on paper, canvas and linen reference Indigenous culture and history, including his own experience of the effects of colonization and residential schools, within a personal aesthetic that is universal in its appeal.