May 26 - July 22, 2007
The retrospective Spectrum spans sixty years of Ernestine Tahedl’s work and encompasses a variety of media and subject matter. Tahedl’s artistic journey began in her native Austria, where, at the age of five, she started to draw, paint and print in the studio of her father, renowned artist and arts educator, Heinrich Tahedl. Narrative works depicting fairy tales and biblical stories dominated her creative output during childhood. Influenced by her father’s iconographic stained glass commissions she produced a series of black and white prints representing the Stations of the Cross at the age of ten. Tahedl was only fifteen when she was accepted to the Vienna Academy of Applied Arts in 1955. During the next six years of formal art training she developed a more personal style, painting still life subjects and expressionistic compositions with an exploratory emphasis on colour, structure and textured surfaces.
In 1963 she was invited to Canada to create large murals for the Alberta School of Technology in Edmonton. While the project never materialized she stayed in Edmonton for two years working on three stained glass commissions, as well as a terrazzo mural for the Federal Post Office Terminal. In 1966 Tahedl received the Allied Arts Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in recognition of her advancement and excellence in stained glass. A year later she created The Sanctuary, an impressive glass structure for the Canadian Pavilion at Expo ’67 in Montreal. Tahedl continued living in Quebec until 1983, probing and experimenting with painting and printmaking while making the Canadian landscape her predominant subject. “The landscape of Canada had the strongest and most lasting impact on my decision to make this country my home.”
Her early landscape paintings show bold colours and layered textures. Gradually her palette gave way to more subtle tones and delicate shades while she was striving to capture and distil the essence and complex spirit of a landscape on canvas. Between 1976 and 1980 Tahedl created several series of etchings, one of them called The Circle of Energy, which symbolizes stations along her path of personal experience. Each multi-layered rendering shares some details with the other works in the series. The overlap of elements enriches each individual expression and deepens the cohesion within the series.
Her grand format acrylics created in the nineties depict luminous, multi-coloured skies and gentle landscapes transformed into imaginary vistas of an ideal reality.
Tahedl’s special appreciation of Canada’s mountains, coastlines, and dramatic vastness is most evident in her Canada Series, created between 1999 and 2000 as a Millennium project. The thirteen large, free-flowing compositions capture an imaginary landscape of the ten provinces and three territories of Canada with an emphasis on the poetic.
Tahedl’s love of observing nature subsequently inspired her recent series of ponds and lily pads, strikingly executed on sectioned wood panels or multiple canvases. Reminiscent of Monet, the paintings are semi-abstract in effect and have both a dreamlike and tactile quality.
Tahedl’s art transfigures material forms of nature and invests them with a spiritual aura that speaks to our senses rather than the intellect. Come and be mesmerized by her timeless imagery and abundant imagination.
Ernestine Tahedl acknowledges the support through the OAC Exhibition Assistance Program.