oil on wood panel, 30" × 36"
oil on wood panel, 30" × 30"
oil on canvas, 24" × 30"
Paul Chester Artist Biography
Inspired by the horizons, water scenes, and rolling hills that surround his studio in southeastern Ontario, the contemporary landscapes of Paul Chester are in the tradition of Canada's impressionists, though tempered by a modern sensibility. The fleeting, diaphanous vision demonstrates Chester's extraordinary relationship with nature. His paintings are hazy, almost dream-like, as if they are dug-up afterthoughts of emotion.
Various flat fields, swamps, wildflower patches and luminous skies are primarily recalled from memory and the results are suggested landscapes personal impressions the artist gathers from the many walks he takes in the natural world. Serene visual representations are often inserted and raised in plywood so that the image can be extended outward onto the wooden surface. These expanded landscapes often blur as one moves out from the centre, implying a faded, fragmented memory a glimpse or recall going in and out of focus.
While powerful evocations of time and place, Chester's paintings are not individually derived from specific locations. He often amalgamates fragments of recollection...an abstracted autumn landscape at dusk. The location of Place 34 is undermined by the lasting impression of the central image a crashing tide in the distance, framed in memory by a seemingly endless golden slather of beach.
In Return, the artist reproduces his thought process for the viewer he draws his recollection of a vast, browning Ontario farmland in three distinct blocks, highlighting the subtle variations in the dark, worn ground while the handmade frame serves as a window that enhances the depth of the scene. In Time Moment, the canvas is developed with layers of paint and the surface scratched with a palette knife, revealing the sharp reds underneath. This physicality, which Chester attributes to his background as a sculptor, provides a visual representation of how a landscape is interpreted in the mind's eye not as a photographic image, but as a heightened accumulation of colour and sensation. In Places, an early spring thaw surrounds two rural Ontario farmhouses, isolating them in a milky stew that hints of the colours of the forthcoming months.
Somewhat of a departure, but in keeping with Chester's interest in man's relationship with nature, are some alternatively peaceful and intense water scenes. In Ocean Way Chester creates an ominous tone through the use of multiple layers of blue and green oil paint, which lend well to the cold choppy waves of the Atlantic. The serenity of a quiet island nestled among a swampland is the subject of Island 3, and, as in many of Chester's landscapes, the horizon line appears in the upper third of the canvas, emphasizing the expansiveness and subtle variations in the reflection of the water.
In his engaging, remarkable windows on the natural world, Paul Chester elucidates his poetic vision and challenges the way the Canadian landscape is captured in art.