STEVE DRISCOLL (1980-), CANADIAN
urethane and pigment on board
signed, titled and dated on the reverse
46 x 82 in — 116.8 x 208.3 cm
Private Collection, Ontario
Steve Driscoll's paintings celebrate the landscape of northern Ontario while re-envisioning it for contemporary audiences. Employing unique material processes, innovative modes of display and strategies adapted from disciplines like industrial design, the Toronto-based artist creates work that resides at the intersection of representation and abstraction.
Driscoll's subject matter follows that of the Group of Seven, an affinity recognized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in its 2017 survey of his work. However, Driscoll names Paterson Ewen as the Canadian artist who inspires him most the artists share an interest in painting as a physical act, formal aspects of scale, and how different materials interact in the making of a painting.
Such concerns are evident in "Rapids" (2013), which is based on a photograph taken by the artist during a fishing trip to Algonquin Park in the early spring, when the rivers swell with melting snow. (As an avid outdoorsman, Driscoll thinks it important to personally experience and document the settings he paints rather than using source material from books or the Internet.) The scale of "Rapids" encompasses us. Its image teems with enchanting details, such as the pops of pink in the water and the undiluted swathes of white paint delineating the river's foaming waves. The work is a showcase of bold painterly marks made with brushes, squeegees and mops, and vivid colour derived from the transparent, almost luminescent layers of pigment-tinted urethane, the artist's signature material. Looking at this painting, we can almost hear the surging water's roar and feel the sunlight's warmth through the trees.
We thank Bill Clarke for contributing this essay. Bill Clarke is a Toronto-based writer, editor, art collector and occasional curator whose professional background is in communications and project management.