In our middle gallery, for the month of July, we are exhibiting lush new oil paintings by Colin Muir Dorward.
Dorward is known for painting his visible environment, which includes the people, spaces, objects, and landscapes around him. Included in our exhibition are works painted en-plein-air on the banks of the Thames River. He was lured riverside by its dense woods and tangled thickets, where the breakdown of a distinction between figure (subject) and ground (background) demanded a novel solution to the classic painter’s problem of locating a subject in space.
These paintings are reflective of Dorward’s interest in visualizing his surroundings to express psychological, or internal states of being. In these tightly-packed landscapes jumbles of sticks, earth, and sky, he sees a metaphor to express a worldview where figures, landscapes, and the bric–brac of daily life are a continuum of activity, rather than discrete entities.
In other works in the exhibition, Dorward presents a painted diptych in the format of an open book, or codex: a symbol of theory and contemplation. Their leafs reveal interlocked mandorla forms, shared by two overlapping disks. Historically used to depict an intersection between earthly and spiritual worlds, Dorward employs the form to connect his observation of the land with contemplation of our place in a cosmic order. In the space of the codex, the problem of figure/ground relationships, become analogous to greater concerns about humankind’s place and responsibilities on the Earth.
Colin Muir Dorward, born 1979, spent childhood in Singapore, was raised in Edmonton, and obtained his BFA from Emily Carr University in 2007. He was selected as a finalist in the 2013 RBC Painting Competition, and won Honorable Mention in the 2014 competition – the same year he completed his MFA at the University of Ottawa. In the fall of 2014, he was awarded the Robert and Isabel Pope Painter’s Residency at NSCAD University. He has exhibited across Canada at venues including The National Gallery of Canada, SAW Gallery, Carleton University Art Gallery, The Power Plant, and The Anna Leonowens Gallery.
His work is held in numerous private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Yukon Permanent Art Collection, the RBC Corporate Art Collection and the City of Ottawa Art Collection. Dorward entered the PhD in Visual Art and Culture program at University of Western Ontario in the fall of 2015.