Hector Charlesworth, “Pictures That Can Be Heard,” Saturday Night, Mar. 18, 1916

A Survey of the Ontario Society of Artists Exhibition

Applied or quasi-“futurism” has gotten hold of the hanging committee of the Ontario Society of Artists this year with a strange clinch, and those who believe that pictures should be seen and not heard are likely to have their sensibilities shocked at certain features of this year’s exhibition. It is, perhaps, one of the duties of the artist to surprise us and to take us out of mental ruts, but it is hardly necessary to tear one’s eyes out in the performance of that duty. The sympathies of the writer are, generally speaking, with innovation, provided that it reveals something new, but the picture to which one alludes seems to have been inspired by no sincere passion for beauty, hidden or revealed, but rather savor of the ideal of the vaudeville manager whose motto is “Hit ‘em in the eye.” […]

The chief grudge that one has against these experimental pictures is that they almost destroy the effect of very meritorious and sincere pictures which are hung on the same walls. The chief offender seems to be J. E. H. MacDonald, who certainly does throw his paint pots in the face of the public. […] [speaking of “Tangled Garden”] In the first place the size of the canvas is much too large for the relative importance of the subject, and the crudity of the colors rather than the delicate tracery of all vegetation seems to have appealed to the painter; but it is a masterpiece as compared with “The Elements,” or “Rock and Maple,” which for all they really convey might just as well have been called “Hungarian Goulash” and “Drunkard’s Stomach.” Mr. MacDonald’s impulse has also infected a number of other talented young artists, who seem to think that crudity in color and brushwork signify the vaunted qualities “strength” and “self-expression.” […]

Source: Hector Charlesworth, "Pictures That Can Be Heard," Saturday Night 29 (March 18, 1916): 5

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