He was one of Canada’s greatest painters. Included in the famed Group of Seven, he was also one of their primary influences. His Impressionist/Fauvist training would be essential to the Group’s motif of displaying the Canadian wilderness in vivid colors and expressive style. His friendship and guidance would move Tom Thomson from unsure artist to the status of iconic Canadian. And he would create more artworks about the horrors of war than any other artist in the country’s history.
It is Veteran’s week here in Canada as we lead up to Remembrance Day on Saturday, November 11. As Canada marks the hundredth anniversary of national-identity creating moments such as the Battle of Vimy Ridge, it seemed appropriate for this week to post paintings from W.W. I veteran, war artist, and Group of Seven member A.Y. Jackson.
He was a landscape painter of incredible skill and vision. He ended up putting those abilities to use by making a record of a devastated land, burned, scarred and bloodied during the first horrific World War. A.Y. Jackson had volunteered and seen the horrors first hand from the trenches. Just when it seemed he would crack completely from his experiences, he was given the chance to record the war as an artist. What he accomplished seems equal parts therapy and exorcism for himself, as well as a vivid and truthful picture of war as the result of the basest and cruelest inclinations of humanity. The painting I’ve included above, ironically title A Copse, Evening (the copse in question being skeletonized by shelling), is perhaps the best example he created from this time of his life.
For an outstanding article about Jackson, his friendship with Tom Thomson, and his service in the war, please check out this link: