|Great Canadian Heritage Treasure||
A fabulous Kelly that has only recently come to light, featuring the master's touch with pastel at capturing a great highlight from Canada's past.
The Pathfinders celebrates the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the band of steel along the southern border of the country that was intended to bind together - in the 1880s - the scattered and sparse population of the second biggest country in the world.
JD's artistry is everywhere visible on this masterpiece of pastel power.
The setting is the canyons of the Rocky Mountains, where the biggest and most dangerous part of the railway construction took place. The perilous nature of the work is shown by the packer carrying supplies on a log where a misstep meant instant death.
JD reminds us that rugged nature of the terrain: cliffs, swift and treacherous rivers, endless forests, and snow covered mountains were major obstacles that claimed many lives.
But JD's Canadians were up to it; not a slacker among them: another packer comes up on the right, a man hews survey markers with an axe, while in the foreground the boss oversees a surveyor taking sights, while an assistant takes down the data.
Nothing escapes JD's eye; in the foreground randomly strewn trees from the spring run off shows this area was under water earlier on.
|The Pathfinders (Surveying the Canadian Pacific Railway 1884) - JD Kelly|
|Orig. pastel - Image Size - 38 x 46 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
There is something of intriguing interest on which the eye, or intellect, can feast, in every part of a JD Kelly painting, no matter how small it is...
No one can say that about any Riopelle... whose canvases all have the same title: An Artist in Search of Meaning...
And certainly no one can dally more than a second or two in front of the National Gallery of Canada's most expensive acquisition ever - the God-awful and artistically challenged Voice of an American, a decorator piece which covers acres of wall space in an embarrassingly prominent place in the foyer of the Gallery's Ottawa glass palace. (Hey look at us, we may live in the sticks but we've been consorting, and shopping, among the art glitterati in New York!!!)
The interior decorator who painted this had a lot of space to cover; probably he - no woman would paint something so bereft of artistry - hoped - that since he had no subject in mind when he started - that by painting hectares, instead, he would be inspired along the way to create something of interest for the eye or intellect... Alas he failed; but his agent got rich selling some civil servant a bill of goods...
You can go see this American disaster covering acres of wall space, shoving aside all kinds of Great Canadian Art by Great Canadian Artists to moulder, unseen, in the dank basement vaults...
Perhaps someday Canada will get National Gallery curators with enough self-confidence to pay more than passing lip service to Canadian art, as they grovel at the feet of of foreign pretenders with high priced public relations promoters eagerly hawking their non-Canadian cast-offs no other foreign museum wanted...