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The Collector's Gallery - Fine Canadian Art

Barbara Hirst
A Conversation with Italy
November 3, 2028 - November 28, 2018



Meet the Artist

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Noon to 4:00

A Conversation with Italy

This body of work is the result of two trips in July of 2017 and 2018 to Riva del Garda in the northern region of Italy known as Trentino whose southern border rests on the north shore of Lake Garda. For centuries, Lake Garda has been a place of convalescence and leisure for northern Europeans. Its strategic location made it a desirable land acquisition and the site of many battles throughout history. Various towns around the lake were inspiration to artists like Albrecht Dürer who depicted the castle ruin in Arco just 6 km north of Riva del Garda and Gustav Klimt who painted the castle at Malcesine on the west shore. This was once the home of the Scaligeri family who ruled in the north during the 13th and 14th centuries.

My choice in location was the result of my love of painting en plein air. The winds that blow from the north in the morning and from the south in the afternoon make the climate on this fresh water lake comfortable despite the high temperatures. While the weeks passed and I continued to work on my paintings, the plein air practice felt like a conversation, a sort of dialogue between me and my surroundings. As the light moved from one side of the lake to the other, the lake revealed itself; in the early morning, the water's surface was still. With the light reflected off the cliffs, the surface of the lake looked like gold. Later, around noon, the Ora wind from the south came to disrupt the quiet and the colors on the cliffs would change to muted pastel shades. Late afternoon brought the hazy shadows from the mountains onto the lake causing dark aqua shades to emerge from the depths and finally at night Lake Garda became a sea of ultramarine blue with the waterfront lights playing on its surface.

While I responded, the scenes I encountered asked certain things of me. I was confronted with an abundance of subject matter from which I had to choose. I had to consider how to simplify the complexity of place as seen through my eyes as a visitor. This ongoing conversation caused me to appreciate how much painting is a sensory experience, and yet one's personal feelings about the environment determine the outcome. I was reminded of the landscape painters of the 19th century who tried to capture the immediacy of the moment while creating an image that was true to the place and realized the value of working this way is that it forces you to be in the present moment and really observe life. In doing so, painting becomes a response to the landscape and to finding your place within it.