Works in the exhibition
Winnipeg artist Simon Hughes (Manitoba) brings humour and a modernist sensibility to classic themes of Canadian art. The subjects he revisits - wilderness, vast landscapes, the far north and its aurora borealis - have been appropriated by canonical artists such as the Group of Seven, perhaps to the point of being exhausted.
Working in watercolour, Simon Hughes revisits Canadian nordicity, using an obsolete aesthetic seemingly at odds with contemporary art theory. His technique, materials, colours, and geometric forms recall 50's graphic design, a self-consciously modern language from a period that firmly rejected traditional, canonical art. Exploiting these themes in an outdated, retro style, Hughes situates himself in two contradictory periods in art history and reconciles them with humour and nostalgia. The anachronism of the conflicting aesthetics gives the work its contemporary edge, the pictures he constructs imbued with a critical acumen otherwise lacking in traditional Canadian painting.