Kenneth Gordon, "TANU (Q.C.I.)," oil on canvas, 1993, 40" x 30".
Kenneth Gordon (1929 – 1998)
Manitoba artist Kenneth Gordon lived several lives — as an art educator, founder of Winnipeg’s Medea Gallery and later as a full-time painter. He spent more than two decades at Winnipeg’s R.B. Russell Vocational High School as an art instructor — one of his lush landscapes still hangs in the staff room of the school. After retiring from teaching, he re-located to the quiet town of Winnipeg Beach, north of Winnipeg, becoming a full-time painter and dedicating his life’s work to capturing the beauty and depth of the Canadian landscape.
Gordon had the ability to speak to viewers about his travels and experiences across the country through the thoughtful motions within his work. His landscapes tell of a vibrant country full of life and diversity. Nature’s elements can be felt through the brushstrokes that cover each canvas, executed with a gestural sensitivity for the sites he was capturing.
There is no doubt that Gordon was influenced by artists such as Emily Carr and A.J. Casson. He was able to put his own fresh technique into his work, while incorporating elements of some of Canada’s best-known artists. Gordon set out much like the artists he admired so greatly and took brush and palette deep into Algonquin Park. He believed that in order to truly capture the breathtaking settings of the mystical areas he was painting they had to be fully experienced through all the senses.
Gordon travelled around Canada, camping out with his family, spending the days painting the abandoned Haida villages on the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia in the early 1990s. His wife Sophie would spend her time reading paperbacks that would later be used for kindling while her husband painted, occasionally taking walks in the wilderness where she would find her way back to the site by tracing back the footprints that had remained in the yellow-green moss.
These travels inspired the work TANU (Q.C.I). Linda Vermeulen of the Mermaid’s Kiss Gallery in Gimli, Manitoba, explains that the painting “shows the silence, the strength, and the remains of totems returning to their natural resting place” and a “great quiet spiritual feeling in the simplicity of the piece.” The fallen totems are surrounded by the lush, rich green curtains of the towering trees. The painting emits a sense of history, a story that has passed with time but has not been forgotten.
— Stacey Abramson