Gregory Hardy: Preface
The title of Gregory Hardy’s exhibition Shattering Sky at Han Art Gallery is a symbolic paradox for the use of light that unifies the landscape in his work. Although there are many contrasts imbued in the dramatic effect of these paintings, it is the sublime beauty of its balance that charges the emotional atmosphere. Hardy evokes a shift from lightness to darkness that signals an overshadowing of imminent chaos before the storm, while at the same time the calmness and serenity that follows it. Hardy reflects this duality in our psyche with the changing sky, and brings a sense of humanity to the landscape.
The use of light is impacted by a profound history, combined with a complex technical skill that Hardy appropriates with his own practice; adding nuances and intangibles, minimal or detailed gestures, and movements that are intrinsically rendered in his work. He depicts the naturalism of the landscape combined with a theatrical use of light like that of Caravaggio; however, opposed to the tropes of chiaroscuro, this dramatic illumination is highlighted by the intermediate value of colour. Even more closely related to the French impressionists like Monet and the romantic notions of Dutch landscape artist Ruysdael, Hardy masterly renders these atmospheric effects with his palette. These works evoke a metaphysical sensibility through the emerging power and majesty of light, where it casts the subject with a distinctly different character and contemplative view.
Although Hardy’s sketches are taken in situ, his landscapes are not so much descriptive of a certain place or moment in time, as they are manifest in the aesthetic dimension of our experience. His lyrical tendency and timeless quality transforms the landscape, whereby the cloud formations are abstract-expressionist and delicately suspended over a background of color-field painting. The long historical debate of nature versus art is deeply integrated into the framework of Hardy’s paintings. From Aristotle to Hegel, the common question is the presence of the mind in these capacities, which is a great phenomenon of Hardy’s work. He captures how art is infused in all places with the reflection of light throughout his sinuous compositions.
As a Saskatoon painter, Hardy’s landscapes are a nod to Dorothy Knowles and William Perehudoff, who are both represented by Han Art Gallery. Inspired by these two great leaders of Canadian art, Hardy’s work establishes itself with this level of quality and value. He goes beyond the conventional and figurative style of the group of seven artists, and distances himself from these traditions by rejuvenating a universal landscape with a personal, ecological, physiological, and philosophical expression. As the next generation of Canadian landscape painters in Contemporary art, his work is more closely affiliated with Paterson Ewen, Lawren Harris, and John Hartman. Their work assumes a new attitude towards nature, whereby Hardy applies a unique perspective of colour with a quality of light that abstracts our representational world, shattering horizons.