Gregory Hardy, "Late August Lament", 2016
acrylic on canvas, 52" x 65"
One of Saskatchewan’s strongest artistic traditions remains landscape painting. Diverse in approach and style, prairie landscape painters are united by their ability to find something remarkable where others may have seen nothing. Whether this arises from looking more closely or intently, from elevating subjects and focal points that would normally fall outside expected conventions, or through the material alchemy of paint as a medium, these painters have excelled where others have decided not to bother.
Gregory Hardy is undeniably one such artist, distinguishing himself through his signature response to the landscape. There is an intimacy and immediacy to his work because it comes directly from his experience of being in the landscape. His task as an artist is not to depict the natural world as an empty and inanimate thing, but to express the visual and tactile sensations of actually being there. Looking at the rocky, tree-lined shores of Lac la Ronge, Hardy captures the way the light and colour shimmer and sparkle off the surface of the water, as well as the kinesthetic rhythm of the bobbing, buoyant kayak, from which he does his sketching. When storm clouds roll over a golden prairie field on a hot summer day, he paints the billowing gaseous forms that can be seen as well as the physical presence of the atmosphere itself, invisible to the eye yet suddenly dense, heavy, and forceful. Gazing across the water on a sweltering summer day, his palette captures the still radiance of the scene, as well as the hum of the blistering heat with unexpected colour contrasts—acidic greens, hot reds, and soft, subtle blues—that vibrate like emanating heat waves.
Throughout these and all of his other evocations of the landscape, Hardy’s handling of paint consistently retains the energy of his experiences as well as the mercurial dynamism of the natural world. Nature is contradictory, after all, eternal yet ever-changing. It can at times be peaceful and harmonious and at others violent and threatening. We are a part of it, can attain unique mental states in its presence, yet it will forever surpass the lifespan and comprehension of our human scale. This romantic sense of wonder permeates Hardy’s oeuvre. Despite all our scientific and technological advances, some things remain beyond logic and reason that only sense and feeling can comprehend.
Art Placement is pleased to present this exhibition of recent works by Gregory Hardy, continuing his explorations of Saskatchewan’s diverse landscapes. As one of Canada’s preeminent contemporary landscape painters, Hardy contributes to the continuing evolution of one of our nation’s defining artistic traditions, from his uniquely Saskatchewan perspective. His paintings have been exhibited across the country and actively collected regionally, nationally, and internationally, yet his work remains inseparable from the place he calls home.