Espace Trois, Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts, Montreal
October 18-31, 1995
With the blatant exception of the human figure, it would be difficult to outweigh nature on the artistic agenda of recurring muses. Whether represented as a simple point of reference, romantically celebrated for its beauty and drama, or, of late, politically depicted as an endangered species, it is no secret that its presence has been ubiquitous in artistic imagery of all times, or just about. In her mellow, sensitive exhibition Experience of Nature, Montreal photographer Doreen Lindsay partakes in yet another variation of nature as muse. Like a number of her contemporaries, this artist has chosen to represent the natural environment in a series of intimate experiences, free of all narrative – political or other – and leaning toward a mystic form of abstraction.
Indeed, these 34 hand-coloured black-and-white images of details are more or less meditative and, without a doubt, contemplative. Photographs of countless fields, cracked rocks, shimmering leaves, spring blossoms, gnarled leafless branches, varying hues of washed-up algae, and more, bask in a muted, often yellowish, light. The combination of isolated features in close-range shooting, accentuating the abstract and formal qualities inherent in natural settings, and the pictorial, discreetly artificial colouring and luminosity appears to have kept the ever-threatening nostalgia and clichés of landscape photography at bay. Lindsay’s “road photographs” were taken in 1993 and 1995, while travelling westward across the United States. Although one couldn’t quite qualify them as mind-boggling or enthralling, a distinct and intriguing sense of intimacy transpires through their simple compositions and surreal glow.