More than ten years ago I lived on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast. The view of the Georgia Strait was spectacular and awe inspiring. On my return to Toronto, my condo looked out on a parking lot. The inside of the unit was lovely but I missed the view. So when the Art Gallery of Ontario announced a show featuring Mystical Landscapes, I put it on the calendar.
But other events intervened. I finally attended and joined a huge crowd at the end of the holiday weekend. The rooms were full of people listening to the audio tour and effectively blocking the view of every painting. After peering through seas of viewers, I headed for the exit, purchased the catalogue, and headed for home. It’s not the same as viewing the actual works, but it’s unencumbered.
The essays of the curator and others reminds us of the importance of awe in our lives. Many of the artists saw the urban environment as the enemy and my parking lot view confirmed it.
But I moved – and for the first time am living in a flat high above my previous one with a view of the urban skyline including Lake Ontario. Its south east exposure offers a daily sunrise that inspires awe once again. So many of the views in urban life are banal. It’s good to have as beautiful a real one as those of the artists who created mystical landscapes. Fortunately the AGO show is still on until the end of the month. It’s time for a return visit.