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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: tenth anniversary issue

Roditi, Edouard
[West coast art--Canada],   pp. [71]-78 PDF (10.0 MB)

Page [72]

Centered in Vancouver and Victoria, the art
world of British Columbia can be viewed
both as a Northern extension of our own
West coast art world, centered in Los
Angeles, San Francisco and now to
some extent in Seattle too, and also as a
far western extension of the Canadian art
world that is centered in Montreal and
Toronto. Viewed in their Canadian
context, the artists of British Columbia
seem to be less influenced by French
styles than their colleagues from Montreal
or Quebec, where French-Canadian painters
like Riopelle are naturally attracted to
Paris or in close touch with its shifts of
taste, and also less preoccuppied with
discovering and proving their Canadian
identity than some of their colleagues of
Eastern Canada, so many of whom are
sometimes anxious to avoid being too
obviously dominated by the art world of
New York. The art of British Columbia is
thus more eclectic and more open to a
variety of American and European
influences than that of Eastern Canada; at
the same time, much of it still reveals an
awareness of the beauty of local natural
scenery and the significance of
American Indian themes and styles,
characteristics that indeed stamp it at times
with a regionalist quality that relates it to
some of the "frontier" art of Arizona and
New Mexico.
Viewed in a context of West coast art,
British Columbia's painters prove to be,
on the whole, less urban and sophisticated
than those of San Francisco and Los
Angeles, or perhaps more provincial, at
least when they fail to transcend the
limitations imposed on them by distance
and their isolation from immediate
contact with the main currents of
contemporary art. As in other peripheral
areas of the contemporary art world, these
artists of British Columbia must rely
all too often, in their attempts to keep
up to date, on reproductions, on art
books and on art periodicals rather than on
direct knowledge of original works by the
masters who create new styles. Significant
and objectively informative exhibitions of
recent art from New York or Paris reach
Vancouver and Victoria all too infrequently.
Discussing the art of British Columbia
in the June-July 1967 issue of Artscanada,
Philip Leider stressed its isolation and

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