Letting go is hard

Gavin Lynch

Fleurs Sauvages, 2018
Oil, acrylic, and spray paint on canvas
73" x 47"

Angell Gallery is pleased to present Letting go is hard, a suite of new paintings by Quebec-based Gavin Lynch. The exhibition runs from Friday, June 22 until Saturday, July 21, 2018. An opening reception with the artist takes place on Friday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m.

The places in which we spend our early years never completely leave us, even if we leave them. The Germans, of course, have a word for the longing we may feel for the places we’ve left behind: fernweh.

But, the Germans also have a word - wanderlust - that refers to the impulse to explore. Perhaps this desire prompted Gavin Lynch to move east from the West Coast in 2010, as well as his exhibition’s title, which is playful, but also a statement of purpose. “My new home in western Quebec shifted my paintings’ focus,” Lynch explains. “They have become more about the quotidian moments of living in the woods - the small things you notice when hiking, gardening or camping - rather than the epic and sublime moments I experienced in B.C’s wilderness. Living here helped me let go of my home landscape; it’s been an inspirational replacement.”

Previously, narrative links or painterly motifs tied Lynch’s bodies of works together. His previous exhibition, Total Eclipse of My Heart, presented fantastical jungle settings inspired by Rousseau, each featuring a fiery red, gradually eclipsing, sun. Then, Lynch produced a 35-foot-long painting for Air Canada, which prompted his reconsideration about how to approach a painting. “I started rethinking the dynamics of my paintings’ structure,” he says. “The Air Canada painting had to present an open contemplative space, and be a work that could completely stand on its own. I wanted to bring those qualities to my new paintings.”

The colour in Lynch’s latest paintings and his foray into sculpture are also attributable to his move. “Our home’s previous owner maintained a medicinal flower garden, so the colours of the flowers have made their way into the paintings,” he explains. Lynch also describes one of his neighbours as a self-taught arborist. “One day, I mentioned that I’d like to try carving so he started leaving wood cut from local trees on our front lawn,” he says. “Soon, there was so much that I thought I’d better start using it.” Lynch’s carvings are based on the natural forms within the paintings. Art-historically, images of flowers and other plant forms were often symbolic, reading as elegiac or celebratory. The sunsets, cloud formations and plants in Lynch’s paintings capture transitional moments, making them feel like memento mori, preserving moments that have passed.

“When I was younger and starting out as an artist, it felt easier to let go formally and experiment,” Lynch says. “Now that I’m older, the challenge is to hang onto that youthful sense of being free to explore.”

- Bill Clarke