Exurbia Borealis #1, 2011
watercolour and gouache on wove paper
126.1 x 93.8 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 45479)
Simon Hughes' suite of works on paper explores a familiar natural phenomenon through a lyrical application of watercolour and gouache. Angular motifs present abstracted northern lights shimmering above a small town fashioned in a graphic, cartoon-like style that recalls Hughes' aesthetic in past works. "Exurbia Borealis" references the sublime geometries of mid-20th-century modernist painters such as Bertram Brooker, and the later works of Lawren Harris. The series also pays homage to the storied Canadian painter Tom Thomson, who had become, as Hughes explains, "more and more obsessed with the aurora borealis at the time of his death.
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