In the galleries: Canadian artist looks to the outdoors for inspiration
By: Mark Jenkins
At the opening of Patrick Bermingham’s Cross MacKenzie Gallery show, “Midnight in the Clearing,” the attendees were plunged briefly into darkness. With the lights switched off, the Canadian artist discussed his technique and humans’ underappreciated ability to see at night. Artificial illumination is so widespread, he said, that “we’ve forgotten we have these primeval skills.”
Bermingham’s pictures are far from primeval, but they’re not exactly trendy. The artist paints with oils, most often on wood panels, in a nocturnal palette of gray, black and hushed greens, sometimes set off by a deep-blue sky. The show’s largest piece even forgoes the greens. Ten feet wide and monochromatic, “Study for Midway on Our Path” immerses the viewer in both night and woodland.
The artist hauls panels large enough to make such pictures into the forest, where he paints from the vantage point he wants the spectator to experience. Many of the locations are in Ontario — Bermingham doesn’t seem drawn to the topographical drama of the mountain West — but this selection also includes smaller-scale pictures made in Guatemala.
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