A new exhibit by Rob Cartotto opens June 9 at the Station Arts Centre in Tillsonburg.
Following Tom: Sketches and Paintings From Algonquin Park and Beyond has been organized by the artist to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tom Thomson’s untimely death, at the height of his artistic prowess.
Cartotto, a self-taught artist who has been heavily influenced by Thomson and the Group of Seven, grew up in a suburb of Toronto and on weekends had free reign in the art and design studio at the embroidery factory where his father worked.
Even though he had never seen any of the wilderness depicted in the Group’s paintings, he recalls being captivated as a child by the images of the Group’s art depicted in Peter Mellen’s 1967 book, The Group of Seven, many of which he repeatedly copied using pastels and crayon. A high school canoe trip in Temagami (his first) brought to life the moods, solitude, and light of Ontario’s north that he had seen only in books, and led to a lifelong passion for canoe tripping and painting, mostly done in and around Algonquin Park.
His art is a break from his 'day job' as a Plastic Surgeon who provides surgical care and reconstruction to people that have been severely burned. Cartotto isn’t sure if the three-dimensional planning for reconstruction of a burn deformity influences his sense of composition, or vice versa, but suspects there may be a link.
His artistic approach closely follows the Group’s methods: en plein air sketches rendered in oil on 8x10” wood panels, later worked up in oil on larger canvases in the studio. He also creates large-format acrylic on panel murals of Thomson and Group of Seven works. He has an outdoor mural on display in Dorset, Ont. and has shown his work at the Toronto Outdoor Art Show.
The artist follows the traditional method used by Thomson and The Group of Seven, in which small en plein air sketches are quickly rendered in oil paint on wood panels to capture the artist’s fleeting impressions of the northern landscape.
Many of the sketches in this show were created by the artist around Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park, the inspirational source of much of Thomson’s work, as well as at locations deeper in the Park’s back country during canoe trips. His wood panels are carefully 'packed out' of the wilderness, then worked-up in the studio into larger formal oil paintings on canvas.
The works capture the frequently changing weather, moods, and shifting light of Ontario’s north country. Works depicting other parts of Canada will also be on display including a series of iceberg paintings from Newfoundland.
Everyone is welcome to attend the Friday, June 9, 7-9 p.m. opening reception. Cartotto will be present to meet you - enjoy the exhibit and refreshments. The exhibit runs to June 23. For details call 519-842-6151 or stop by the Station Arts Centre at 41 Bridge Street W. Tillsonburg.