Vancouver Art Gallery
E. J. Hughes Exhibition

Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
30 January - 8 June 2003

Reviewer: Ed Farolan

E. J. Hughes is known for his British Columbia landscapes and seascapes.Born in Vancouver in 1913, this Canadian artist is famous for the clarity of form and colour of his images. The detailed strokes in his paintings express his patience and perfectionism.

I had the pleasure of being escorted by VAG's Communications Manager, Julie-Ann Backhouse to his paintings on the first floor of the gallery. She explained to me how Hughes starts with a pencilled sketch of a landscape, then moves on to a larger scale still in pencilled draft, and finally, she explains, the coloured finished product. All in all, the artist develops one landscape in about six to eight weeks.

The entire first floor covers, in chronological order, the span of his career from the 1930s to the present, examining his early work as a printmaker, muralist and war artist, and climaxing with his work in the 50s and 60s. The exhibit includes approximately 100 prints, drawings, watercolours, oils and acrylic canvases drawn from public and private collections throughout Canada.

His intense observation of the British Columbia landscape/seascape is expressed in two paintings I particularly admired. Comox Valley, painted in 1953, oil on canvas, expresses the depth and detail of his art. Another painting showing the Nanaimo ferry traversing the Georgia Strait, as illustrated above, delineates the realistic tradition of his painting based on direct observation. But Hughes goes one step further in his own indivualistic style, by painting his observations with clarity and attention to detail.

This is truly a must-see exhibit for art lovers, particularly for those who might want just to sit back, relax, and reflect on the all too common slogan, "Beautiful British Columbia."

© 2003, Ed Farolan