News : 2020

"Gavin Lynch Artist explores old-growth forests."
Portia Priegert, editor of Galleries West Magazine

Omega, the final letter of the Greek alphabet, is often used to refer to the end of a sequence or series. As the title for a show of landscapes inspired by science fiction and recent global events, it takes on a more ominous tone.

Gavin Lynch, who is based near Ottawa in Wakefield, Que., paints forest scenes that owe much to his childhood in the remote logging town of Burns Lake, B.C. 

His latest works, on view from March 12 to April 7 at the Peter Robertson Gallery in Edmonton, are based on the redwood forests he saw in Northern California during a family road trip last summer.

While some paintings evoke the peacefulness of the old-growth forest, the titular painting, Omega (Big Trouble in the Founder’s Grove), shows a forest licked by flames. 

While forest fires are part of a natural cycle in nature, the alarming scale of recent fires, not only in Canada, but internationally, prompted Lynch to pose a “what if” question about the potential loss of the California redwoods, among the oldest trees in the world.

The show also features his text paintings – including one of the cover of the first edition of Silent Spring, American biologist Rachel Carson’s 1962 touchstone for the environmental movement.

Lynch’s forest scenes have a futuristic quality that borders on the surreal. The light falling through the trees with telltale patterns of light and dark has verisimilitude, but the foliage itself is stylized. 

Leaves and branches resemble silhouettes, the result of “somewhat elaborate” collage-like techniques that involve masking and stencils using varied media, including oil, acrylic and watercolour.

The paintings don’t reproduce well digitally because their many layers flatten, says Lynch, who earned a Master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Ottawa in 2012, following his BFA from Emily Carr University in Vancouver.

“They actually have a lot of texture and become more sculptural,” says Lynch. “With each additional layer they become really built up … I wanted to hypothetically collage different painterly applications together on the same surface.” ■ 

Omega is on view at the Peter Robertson Gallery in Edmonton from March 12 to April 7, 2020.