Nicholas Metivier Gallery

Charles Meanwell
The Barrens
February 9–March 4, 2017


Opening Reception: Thursday, February 9th, 6 - 8 PM

Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by Charles Meanwell. The exhibition will open on February 9th and run until March 4th with an opening reception on Thursday, February 9th. 

Charles Meanwell has painted his surroundings for the last 40 years in a style that is characterized by gestural brushwork expressed with minimal means. His work recalls that of painters David Milne, Milton Avery, and Barker Fairley, the latter being an important mentor to Meanwell. In addition to painting from life, Meanwell has recently started to use the display of his digital camera, rather than printing a photograph. Immediacy is crucial to his practice, the ultimate goal being to paint without feeling or trying to make sense of the landscape. For Meanwell, these roles belong to the viewer.

Meanwell was 21 when he first visited Newfoundland, serving as a deckhand for eleven months on a cargo ship that travelled along Canada’s east coast. Observing the landscape from this vantage point had a profound impact on Meanwell. This exhibition marks a new body of work resulting from three separate trips to Newfoundland between 2015 and 2016. During this time, Meanwell was inspired by the understated beauty of Newfoundland’s iconic terrain, particularly the sparsely populated coastal regions with low ground cover that are locally referred to as the barrens.

During his first and second trips, Meanwell visited Conception Bay and Flat Rock near St. John’s, as well as Cape Pine on the southern tip of Newfoundland. Meanwell likened being in Cape Pine, known for its little vegetation and coastal view from the cliffs, to being on the edge of the world. On his last visit, Meanwell went north, from Gros Morne to Daniel’s Harbour, and then up to Cape Norman at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Daniel’s Harbour, a remarkably flat landscape and home to a small active fishing village, is the subject of Meanwell’s most ambitious painting to date on Typar, a building material that he repurposes as prepared canvas. The absence of infrastructure in many parts of the province aligns perfectly with Meanwell’s succinct and poetic interpretation of landscape. Many of the paintings in this exhibition are nearly abstract, their compositions being a puzzle of interlocking shapes. Only the skies, painted in white, grey or green, register these works as landscapes. 

Charles Meanwell lives and paints in Hamilton, Ontario. In 2014, his work was featured in Painting Hamilton at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Solo museum exhibitions include On the Ground, Thames Art Gallery, Chatham, Ontario in 2010 and Windsor Paintings, Windsor Art Gallery, Windsor, Ontario in 2008. In June of 2017, Meanwell will have his first solo exhibition at Christina Parker Gallery in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

For more information on this artist, click here.