Lot Sale Results

Emily Carr
Fall 2015 - 2nd Session Live auction

Lot # 152

Emily Carr
BCSFA CGP 1871 - 1945 Canadian

Forest Interior
oil on paper on board circa 1935 ~ 1938
signed
23 7/8 x 35 3/4 in  60.6 x 90.8cm

Provenance:
By descent to the present Private Collection, Ottawa

Literature:
Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of Emily Carr, 1966, pages 31 and 199, a canvas with a similar theme entitled Roots, in the collection of the BC Archives, Victoria, reproduced page 231

"There is a sea of salal and bracken, waving, surging, rolling towards you. Green jungle, thick yet loose-packed, solid, yet the very solidity full of air spaces. Perfectly ordered disorder designed with a helter-skelter magnificence. How can one express all this? To achieve it you must perch on a desperately uncomfortable log and dip among the roots for your material." - Emily Carr
The life cycle of the forest was always present in Carr's perception and in her work, from young trees to old-growth-forest giants to those returning to the earth as stumps and logs. Images of roots often occurred in Carr's paintings, whether in the form of driftwood thrown up on the beach or in the large exposed root systems we see in Forest Interior. These are the result of mature trees having been pushed over by a powerful wind, pulling up the woven mat of their root systems as they have fallen. Once they had generated life, "strong roots hidden in the silent, live ground," as Carr wrote in her journal Hundreds and Thousands as she reflected on forest growth bursting from the earth. Now, upended, they will provide living spaces for insects and other life, eventually decaying into the humus on the forest floor.
Forest Interior is densely packed with vegetative life. Young trees in the foreground stand in a row before a thick stump, above which tower two twisted and powerful root systems, while between them, undergrowth ripples through a narrow channel like green water. A screen of trees forms the backdrop, with a central glow of light filtering through it, creating a transcendent atmosphere. Carr was conscious of creating a unity of movement in works such as this to reflect the great throb of life energy she saw running through everything - rising from the forest floor and running through the trees with a rhythmic roll and a buzzing electricity.
Carr's medium in this extraordinary painting is that of oil on paper. This medium, which she used extensively in the 1930s, allowed her great freedom to innovate. This use of oil paint, thinned with turpentine and sometimes gasoline, allowed Carr to retain the richness of oil, but it had a fluidity like that of watercolour. It also facilitated her use of sweeping brush-strokes that embodied the energy she was perceiving in the landscape. Its effects could range from light washes, such as those she used in her seashore paintings, to the denser pigmentation seen here in Forest Interior, which glows with rich greens and deep, warm earth tones.
In her journal Carr reflected on her own artistic "roots," writing, "So, artist, you too from the deeps of your soul, down among dark and silence, let your roots creep forth, gaining strength. Drive them in deep, take firm hold of the beloved Earth Mother...Draw deeply from the good nourishment of the earth but rise into the glory of the light and air and sunshine." Forest Interior immerses the viewer in the renewing aliveness of the woods and allows us to see it on a deeper level. Having seen Carr's work even briefly, our perception of West Coast forests is richer. For those who have spent time with her work, it is hard to imagine being in the forest and not seeing an overlay of her powerful vision of it, and feeling our own roots in nature.

Estimate: $150,000 ~ $200,000 CAD

Sold For: $236,000.00 CAD (including buyer's premium)


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