The new Scott Goudie exhibition is a room full of prints, drawings and watercolours dating from 1977 to two weeks ago. The range of media demonstrates Goudie’s artistry; the subject matter partly illustrates his extensive travelogue; and the changing, always recalibrating emphasis on shape and tone underscores his continual engagement with the environment around him. In other words: it makes an impression.
Goudie formally studied art (visual arts and music) in the early ’70s, but even before that he was instructed by Paul Parsons, Don Wright and Gerald Squires.
“I was very lucky to have that kind of support,” Goudie said.
The exhibition unfolds chronologically, starting with three aquatints from “St. John’s Series” (which included 21 pieces when it debuted in 1977). These are downtown scenes, “Garrison Hill,” the alley by the Duke of Dukeworth (before that august institution was established) and the Courthouse. They are cropped and framed intriguingly, the viewer looking up — as the artist did when he made his original sketches (later on he would supplement this groundwork with photographs).
There is always a sense of the artist being there, truly there; not as a passerby, but someone with a deep interest in the place.
One wall is covered with graphite and charcoal drawings and watercolours Goudie calls “faces of India,” portraits and landscapes from a 1981 journey, inspired and completed right on the spot. Many are portraits — one shows a shepherd Goudie paid to sit for him.
“He hated Westerners. You can see that in his eyes, but what a face.”
But others are broad urban or country vistas — “the landscape, I can’t seem to get away from that.”
Then the work returns to Newfoundland and Labrador, with prints such as “On the Ferryland Downs,” showing Goudie’s friend and mentor Squires, and then examples from a “Rock and Water” series. Goudie loves to fly-fish, a pursuit that dovetails nicely with his compositional preferences of rock, water and sky.
In the late ’90s Goudie had an artist residency in Berlin, and “Gladiolas in my Flat,” a rare interior, is the beautifully composed result, with a tall vase and speared flowers on a polished table backed by a hanging chandelier and night-lit window.
Throughout these, Goudie’s hues have mainly been in black and white, a monochromic scale that does not seep away anything of clarity or volume. In the 21st century, though, he begins to experiment with colour, “opening them up a bit more.”
Several of the works which display this are from Labrador, especially concerning Muskrat Falls and the Torngat Mountains.
“I’ve been painting (Muskrat Falls) for 20 years. I want to do an exhibition before they dam it. It’s a powerful place.”
In 2009, he took a trip to Italy, as can be seen here, and, later, Iceland: “Gullfoss/Golden Falls” is actually the location of the opening scene of Ridley’s Scott’s “Prometheus,” which startled Goudie when he saw the film at the theatre.
He understands why director Scott chose the site, for sure. “There’s no human scale. When you stand in a place like that it makes you feel so tiny.”
Of course, this is also what he finds in Labrador, where he plans to return (as well as to Italy and Iceland). But his Labrador pieces, for now, might hold the kernel and the promise of Goudie’s work. Asked to pick one work that could represent his entire output so far, Goudie selected representations of either Muskrat Falls or the Torngat Mountains.
“There is atmosphere, and landscape, and water, which I’ve been dealing with all my life.
“Labrador is massively big. These cliffs are 3,000, 4,000 feet. And close to there they are a mile high. That is a mile of granite going down to the ocean. I’m in awe of all of it.”
“Scott Goudie — Celebrating 35 Years” continues at the Christina Parker Gallery until Dec. 22.