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David Alexander

David Alexander: The Shape of Place

EDITED BY LIZ WYLIE
DAVID ALEXANDER
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 120
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1283pb
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  • Book Info
    David Alexander
    Book Description:

    In Canada, it can be easy to consider landscape painting as cliché, an art form whose time has passed. David Alexander's vibrant, large-scale works show the wonder and possibility that remain undiminished in paintings of the natural environment and breathe new life into the landscape tradition. Gathering together six essays on Alexander, this book provides insight into Alexander's inspiration, creative drive, and the unique engagement with nature that has led him to seek out and paint remote locales across Canada and as far away as Greenland, Iceland, New Mexico, and Argentina. Award-winning writer Sharon Butala contributes an extended meditation on her first encounter with the artist and his work. An interview with Robert Enright reveals Alexander's engagement with tradition, and texts by the late Gilbert Bouchard, Ihor Holubizky, Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson, and Liz Wylie, present a variety of insights into understanding and appreciating his art. A detailed chronology of Alexander's career is included. Reproductions of his major works appear throughout and the essays are illustrated with preliminary paintings and working sketches, conveying insight into his creative process. A valuable discovery for those interested in nature and its artistic renderings, Alexander's art is about conveying an immersion in the landscape. This book allows a similar presence within his lushly painted landscapes, imparting an intimate understanding of his art.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8724-3
    Subjects: Art & Art History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations and Plates (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments (pp. xi-1)
    David Alexander and Liz Wylie
  5. Introduction: THE LANDSCAPE IS THE EVIDENCE (pp. 3-7)
    Liz Wylie

    Did it first start and take hold in David Alexander when he was a boy, motoring up and down among the islands off the North West Coast in a tug boat with his father? With the land, sea, and sky constantly moving and changing around him, he was completely immersed in the natural world. He always loved to draw. At age fifteen he took over the bedroom his older brother had vacated; it became his first studio. He was also fed a steady diet of Emily Carr from a young age. Does all this add up to some kind of...

  6. [Illustrations] (pp. 8-16)
  7. LANDSCAPE, NATURE: DAVID ALEXANDER (pp. 17-27)
    Sharon Butala

    When I was asked to write this essay I responded that I write only personal essays and that I’m not a scholar, especially not about art. Although in the early sixties I had wanted to be a painter and had majored in art, I soon discovered I hadn’t the talent or the drive necessary to live as an artist in Canada must live. “I discovered that I was probably going to want to eat,” I told people when I went on to acquire a teaching degree. Since those days, what with marriage, motherhood, a teaching career, and as a writer...

  8. [Illustrations] (pp. 28-34)
  9. DAVID ALEXANDER, AND BEING SURROUNDED BY THINGS WE HAVE NOT MADE (pp. 35-41)
    Ihor Holubizky

    In spite of the heavy imprint of tumultuous social subject matter that weaves through art in the modern age, nature and the landscape – seemingly neutral and enchanting – remain fundamental to the artist’s vision. The relationship summarized by Kenneth Clark sixty years ago still resonates: “[landscape painting] depends so much on the unconscious response of the whole being to the world which surrounds [the artist].”¹ Unlike the portrait – a relationship and communion – there is no corporeal transfer, no physiognomy to read or a psychoanalytical “window to the soul.” Nature cannot protest “I don’t look like that,” nor express satisfaction for our...

  10. [Illustrations] (pp. 42-48)
  11. A LAND OF WATER (pp. 49-53)
    Gilbert Bouchard

    Canada has long seen itself as a land filled with hewers of trees and drawers of water – a strong, self-reliant, resource-oriented nation, sure of itself in the woods, both real and metaphorical. Following logically from this vision is the physical reality of our nation being filled with trees for hewing and water for drawing, as well as a matching symbolic reality of a forested and lake-rich homeland of the mind. From this notion of active wilderness also follows the sense that Canadians of all stripes, from lumberjacks to politicians to artists, must somehow come to grips with this forested and...

  12. [Illustrations] (pp. 54-56)
  13. AN “OTHER” ICELAND: MUSINGS ON THE ALEXANDER LANDSCAPE (pp. 57-63)
    Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson

    Landscape painting is the single constant strain in the art of those two northern countries, Canada and Iceland. Though intermittently interrupted by the modernist quest for an urban aesthetic, it has proven remarkably resilient. In his 1949 study, Kenneth Clark lamented that nature “seemed too large and too small for imagination,” that we had “lost faith in the stability of what we used hopefully to call ‘the natural order,’ and, what is worse, we know that we have ourselves acquired the means of bringing that order to an end.”¹ Sixty years later, landscapes are still the lodestones of Canadian and...

  14. [Illustrations] (pp. 64-70)
  15. THE MARVEL AND THE MENACE: DAVID ALEXANDER TALKS ABOUT LANDSCAPE (pp. 71-81)
    Robert Enright

    In August of 2010 Robert Enright spent an evening and the following day with David Alexander at his home studio in the Okanagan Valley, on the occasion of the artist’s solo show at the Vernon Public Art Gallery. In the resulting interview they touch on topics related to the artist’s thinking and work over the last few decades.

    ROBERT ENRIGHT: You have jokingly referred to landscape as a four-letter word. How did it earn that unhallowed reputation in your mind?

    DAVID ALEXANDER: I think because it has plodded along, no matter what else has happened. For the last fifty years...

  16. [Illustrations] (pp. 82-85)
  17. CHRONOLOGY (pp. 86-96)
  18. DAVID ALEXANDER BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 97-99)
  19. Exhibitions and Collections (pp. 100-107)
  20. Contributors (pp. 108-108)