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Below are Jpegs of paintings from "Swan Song" - a March 2009 Solo Show at Gallery 1313, Toronto Canada

Media coverage of the show and artist's statement, click here..

· Click on image to enlarge. ·

Beginning of the End

2009, acrylic/canvas 4'7"w x 6'h

Sombrio Beach, Juan De Fuca Provincial Park, BC

Mistaken Identity

2009, acrylic/canvas 6'w x 7'7"h

Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

Earth Shattering

2008, acrylic/canvas 6'w x 7'7"h

Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

The Big Smoke

2008, acrylic/canvas 6'w x 7'7"h

Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario


2008, acrylic/canvas 6'w x 4'7"h

China Beach, Juan De Fuca Provincial Park, BC

CO2 Sink

2008, acrylic/canvas 6'w x 4'7"h

Botanical Beach, Juan De Fuca Provincial Park, BC

The Canary (Toad) has Dropped

2007, acrylic/canvas 4'7"w x 6'h

Sombrio Beach, Juan De Fuca Provincial Park, BC

Globe and Mail
Saturday March 21, 2009

Memorials to a landscape under assault


Diane White
at Gallery 1313
Until March 29, 1313a Queen Street West 416-536-6778

Diane White is getting understandably tired of hearing from art dealers that she would be a great painter if she'd just cut the edges off her paintings.

What's wrong with the edges? Well, that's where the messages lie, painted all around each picture, or across its bottom, like friezes of admonition or, sometimes, of out and out rebuke.

One lambently beautiful painting of huge pink trees in a green-gold forest, for example, carries an enigmatic title at the bottom - The Canary (Toad) Has Dropped, and, all around its other three sides, offers a decorative band of green, on which is painted a ribbon of rhythmically dispersed golden toads. A carefully lettered explanation runs up the painting's left side: "Golden Toad - First Species Extinct as a Result of Climate Change."

White explains it to me as we gaze upon the huge painting, propped up in the tiny kitchen of her west end Toronto home. "The Golden Toad is - or was - from Costa Rica," she says. The animal has not been seen since the late 1980s when, it is hypothesized, global warming dried up the toad's natural marsh environment. White's stunning painting memorializes the creature.

White, who has so much energy her outlines seem to flicker and vibrate, is a wife, mother, and, for a great part of each day, a caregiver to the elderly. She paints - somehow - in the time left over. Or she goes away on one of her frequent field trips ("basically, I don't want to be in the city"), the most recent trek taking her to Killarney Provincial Park, 60 kilometres south of Sudbury. Here, in the course of canoeing on George Lake, sketching (always with crayons), making photographs and taking notes, she generated the paintings that make up most of her new exhibition, Swan Song: Environmentally Challenged Landscapes, now at Toronto's Gallery 1313.

Except for the Golden Toad painting, Swan Song is about the mining industry. The Beginning of the End, shown here, is concerned with, as the painting's border-text makes clear, Deforestation - Loss of Natural Filtration System and Habitat. Aesthetically, the painting is glorious, with its red earth, its green-white embankments, and its unspoiled pastel forest in the background. But then there are those two felled trees, rudely slung horizontally through the painting, dark blood-red and threatening as a guillotine. "I just want to paint the full picture," White tells me. "The landscape is beautiful, but the lakes are dead and the trees are dying." Which makes for landscapes that are pretty hard for people to hang over their sofa to match their drapes.

At the centre of Swan Song is White's trilogy of paintings - each six feet wide and seven feet, seven inches high: The Big Smoke - Air, Earth Shattering - Earth, and Mistaken Identity - Water. Each is lovely, disturbing and horrifying, in equal measure. Each of the paintings embodies what White calls "a collision of different objectives."

And each of the paintings makes manifest those colliding objectives and contradictory programs in the best way White knows - by painting exquisitely and urgently. The Big Smoke, for example, is a rampant field of turbulent brick reds and creams, bounding and writhing over an icy, reflected lakescape, glorious to behold - until you also behold the towering, raw-red smokestack thrust up through the picture's left side and belching purple smoke.

Earth Shattering is even more delicately pleasing - initially anyhow. A study in blue-grey, with the George Lake providing a mirror-like symmetry of the shoreline and its reflection, the uncanny stillness of the painting is gently interrupted by the appearance, at its upper left, of a huge section of mining equipment. This soft blue tangle of machinery gently drifts down into the waiting landscape as if it were descending from the clouds. The ironies folded into this magnificent painting are clearly angry and strident, and yet the entire painting proceeds through a kind of painted hush - as if silence made a louder noise than fury.

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Artist's Statement for Swan Song Show

Landscape painter
Concerned citizen of the world
Tree hugger
I confess to all of the above

What interests me, as a visual artist, are tensions generated by the politics of preserving nature.
Beauty and the Beast.

The natural world (Beauty) is often overshadowed by man-made forces that degrade and too often threaten its existence. When in the field, sketching, photographing, and exploring, I am acutely aware (through observation and prior research ) of terrific pressures felt by eco-systems resulting from activities required to sustain our society's voracious consumption. Road infrastructure, resource exploration, extraction and processing - (The Beast)

Nowhere is this beauty and the beast phenomenon more apparent than in Killarney Provincial Park. This park is located 60 km south of Sudbury, one of Ontario's largest mining cities. Killarney Provincial Park, immortalized on canvas by the Group of Seven, is visually stunning. The fire and brimstone of the mining beast has produced airborne acidic showers laying waste to lakes and forest.

Paintings in this collection include a series of paintings employing elements central to mining and the health of the natural world- Air- Earth-Water. A collision of different objectives. The paintings' images reflect soft, calm, tranquil vistas. Symbols of mining escape the paintings' borders colliding with the natural world - impacting the landscape. My work has four important physical elements: central landscape panel, borders, text and title. Though separate, these interdependent components combine to project my particular vision. "The Big Smoke", represents "Air". Sudbury is known for its enormous smoke stack - a monument of the mine's attempt at controlling the dispersion of pollutants into the air. The pollutants have raised acidic levels in lakes in the area producing "dead" lakes. Some of the surrounding forest visually shows signs of the effects of poor air quality with its damaged and dying trees. The painting, 'Earth Shattering", is self explanatory. The equipment and manpower required for exploration and extraction is formidable - its impact reverberates generations down the road.

In addition to producing work about the effects of mining, I still am executing images that reflect global concerns about the environment in paintings such as, The Canary (Toad) Has Dropped, CO2 Sink and Rejuvenation. Politically-infused landscape paintings challenging the viewer towards dialogue and debate.

Diane White
February 2009

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© Diane White, 2009