M. L. A. F. [Margaret Fairbairn], "Some Pictures at the Art Gallery", Toronto Daily Star, Mar. 11, 1916

The forty-fourth yearly exhibition of the Ontario Society of Artists opens to-day in the Art Museum gallery, corner of College and St. George streets, with the three galleries well hung and a good array of sculpture, though less possibly than usual in that department of art.

On the whole, the work of the younger men dominates the galleries, not so much as to numbers, but as to forcefulness as to their use of strong, even violent, color – color that makes the quieter toned canvases look weak by comparison.

Of these, Mr. J. E. MacDonald’s “A Tangled Garden” is a good example. It is what one might call “an incoherent mass of color,” for at first glance it seems a purposeless medley of crude colors which gradually explain themselves as standing for the blooms in a garden bed in full sunlight. In “Pumpkins and Pump” the same artist shows an equal brilliancy, but here one sees the sunshine and realizes form and meaning. But in “The elements” the artists breaks loose again in a whirl of chaotic shapes, where the clouds are as rocks and the rocks and vegetation and humans are in one convulsive whirl that certainly suggests an agitation of these same elements. […]

The poetry of labor and the picturesqueness of great engineering feats is touched on by Mr. Charles Simpson in “The Derrick,” the huge machinery seen against the dull glow of the sky. Mr. Staples gives a distant view of construction work on the Bloor street viaduct, while Mr. Peter C. Shepherd, under the same title, gives a near view of the enterprise that carries with it an impression of vastness and labor involved that raises it to the level of a great epic.


Of snow scenes, Mr. Lawren Harris shows two – spruces heavily laden with newly fallen snow. Mr. Beatty’s wide view of a frozen stream between snowy bunks is fairly successful; Mr. Arthur Lismer gives the effect of sunny winter atmosphere, but one pauses a little doubtfully before the intense blue of his shadows; Mr. Carmichael also gives a version of winter but it fails to be convincing.

Mr. Tom Thomson’s “The Birches” and “The Hard Woods” show a fondness for intense yellows and orange and strong blue, altogether a fearless use of violent color which can scarcely be called pleasing, and yet which scoops an exaggeration of a truthful feeling that time will temper. […]

M. L. A. F. [Margaret Fairbairn]

Source: Margaret Fairbairn, "Some Pictures at the Art Gallery," Toronto Daily Star, March 11, 1916

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