"Clean Mountain Air in the Muskwa Kechika"
Deryk Houston, "Clean Mountain Air in the Muskwa Kechika," acrylic on canvas, 36" X 36".
The Muskwa Kechika, March 13 to 29, 2010, Canada House Gallery, Banff
BY: Beverly Cramp
Looking at Deryk Houston’s impressionistic paintings for the first time, viewers would be forgiven if they thought they were seeing the works of a landscape artist. His upcoming show at Canada House Gallery consists of about 20 acrylics on canvas that are based on a horseback trip Houston took into northwestern British Columbia’s Muskwa Kechika wilderness area. But Houston’s practice also includes photography and installation pieces about war and peace, some of them featured in the National Film Board’s 2003 documentary film From Baghdad to Peace Country. “I spent a lot of time in Baghdad,” says Houston. “I toured bomb shelters and hospital wards. It took an enormous toll on my emotions. To balance this part of my life, I seek out places where there is no one. So all my works are related to the issue of war, but the peaceful works are the flip side — that life is precious and we should be protecting it.” Stylistically, the Muskwa Kechika paintings are a departure for Houston. “Normally I use bigger brushes to portray what I see. But for these new pieces, I had to go into a tighter style to depict what I was searching for structurally. Visually it looks different but it’s still the same message.”