The medium of watercolour is one of the most challenging used by artists. After the pigment has been placed on paper, change is not possible and the artist must possess considerable skill to achieve his or her artistic goal. Two major artists working in British Columbia in the first half of the twentieth century used watercolour extensively: Emily Carr and Charles John Collings.
Emily Carr generally used watercolour as a "means to an end" and the works she produced in the medium were often conceived as studies for oil paintings. The shift between Carr's early works–several of which show considerable manipulation of materials–and her later watercolours is striking. In contrast, Charles John Collings, who established a career as a watercolourist before coming to Canada in 1910, conceived of and used the medium in most of his work. Collings' paintings are renowned for their subtlety of colour and complexity of technique, which often involved such measures as wet-on-wet application of paint, lifting areas of pigment, or burnishing the surfaces of completed works to achieve the desired effect. Both artists used watercolour as an important and vital part of their work in depicting the landscape of British Columbia. There is again, however, another remarkable difference: Carr's work is firmly rooted in the real while Collings' images are largely from the realm of his imagination.
Over the last forty years, Vancouver collector and gallery owner Uno Langmann has assembled a major collection of work by Charles John Collings. The exhibition marks an opportunity to present a large selection of works from this significant collection.
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