Lawren Harris’ northern landscapes and mountains are possibly the most iconic images found in Canadian art. His mystical scenes exist in a realm that occupies both abstraction and realism, expressing a unique viewpoint that could transform a mountain into a personal statement of spiritual significance.
Somehow he was able to achieve a stylized, almost graphic look that did not in any way trivialize the power and strength of the subject matter.
Like so many others, I have always been entranced by Harris’ northern landscapes. I’ve often wondered why exactly this is so. What is it about his work that is so engaging?
The images are bereft of human presence, yet are in no way alienating or desolate. The scenes depict a cold frozen world, yet the empathy with which he relates to his subject matter speaks of warmth and habitability. The shapes, colours, light and shadows are nudged into abstraction, but seem tangible and believable, more real even than the reality we comprehend with our regular, day-to-day vision.
No one else may be present in these scenes, but they clearly show places in which he has ‘taken residence’. As such, they become brilliant and effective metaphors for a deeply spiritual aspect of life, rendered in such a way as to make it seem readily attainable and immediately available to everyone.
Note: The images on this page are copyright by the Lawren Harris Estate, presented herein under the 'fair use' doctrine, for non-commercial, educational purposes.