Nocturnes: the City

Contemporary Canadian life is concentrated in urban centres. The landscape that many see is man-made and built-up, experienced 24 hours a day—a world away from the uninhabited wilderness and pastoral scenery of traditional Canadian landscape painting. Over the past seven years, I have created a series of paintings that pay a testament to the vibrancy of the city at night: traffic lights, shop windows and neon signs are reflected and enhanced on rainy streets. Gleaming reflections exaggerate the contrasts between deep darks and artificial lights. It is the same world as during the day, but stripped of its blandness.

Colours explode, revealing the vitality of the urban surroundings and a society that is always on the go. In these nocturnes I seek the drama, the exaggerated and the surprising in seemingly random objects and places. The darkness masks the worn-down features of a round-the-clock society. What remains is a real, and at the same time surreal, landscape. The wide vistas and big skies of traditional landscapes are often associated with escape or recreation. Foregrounded in nature, these idealized sites are positioned to revitalize the human body and soul. By contrast, the urban landscape is generally viewed as mundane and gritty: a place that wears you out and brings you down. Nocturnes reveals another perspective—glowing, luminous and filled with a mystery and vitality all its own.


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