Alex Landon Richardson
Into the Light

July 18 - August 31, 2019

Reaching My Destination, Into the Sparkling Bliss (detail),  2019, Acrylic paint on canvas, 30 x 36 inches

Reaching My Destination, Into the Sparkling Bliss (detail), 2019, Acrylic paint on canvas, 30 x 36 inches

Opening Reception: Thursday, July 18, 6:00–9:00pm - Artist talk at 6:45

About the Exhibition

Coldstream Fine Art is pleased to present Into the Light, a new series of paintings by Alex Landon Richardson. Inspired by sojourns into the expansive wilderness of Northern Ontario, the paintings showcase Richardson’s continuing fascination with the formal and thematic potentials of natural landscapes. To her, nature is not a product for consumption, but rather a process with which one is always fundamentally linked. Through venturing into the wilderness for outdoor leisure, she feels that one aims to nurture this link and return to an awareness of it.

This series takes the viewer on a journey through a day in the life of a vacation camper, from morning twilight to nightfall. Guided by the scientific research of beloved late family member and acclaimed biologist, Donald Lush, with regards to the body's circadian rhythm and paint pigments, this series is an exciting step forward in creating new affective ways to experience painting. The viewer's circadian rhythm is affected when viewing the paintings, due to the artist's careful use of hidden fluorescent pigments mimicking daylight's progression through the electromagnetic spectrum, and therefore 'feeling' the time of day being portrayed. Through this collaboration of Science and Art, Richardson seeks to communicate with the viewer beyond a cognitive and emotional level by bringing the experience into the realm of the physiological.

Her paintings, then, become an interface we can use to contemplate our multifaceted relationship with the natural world, which is both deeply personal and innately universal. In a time when urbanization has become the norm for the majority of the world’s population, and when alienation from the core struggles and joys of existence is the status quo, Richardson’s artwork gives us a much needed tether to the foundations of life. However, while the compositions inspire a primordial awe, they are a far cry from the epic landscapes of the Romanticists. Instead they focus on the affective power of humble scenes—such as a gathering of evergreens by a still lake, the sun, perched perfectly on the horizon, melting away the last vestiges of night as a new day begins.

The choice of subject matter is harmonious with Richardson’s technique, which centres around her treatment of colour, light and intentional use of fluorescent pigments. Her approach is inspired by the plein air methods of the Impressionists, especially evident in how she portrays the dappling of sunlight and the unexpected vibrancy of shadows, while also treating gradients within negative space with an almost photographic faithfulness. By activating the body's physiological response to the light emitted from the fluorescent pigments, miraculously bringing the viewer into an animation of these scenes which feels hyperreal. Some scenes energize the viewer, and others have a calming effect, depending on the time of day being portrayed. This collaboration between Scientist and Artist invites us into an exciting new way to experience painted worlds. Into the Light, is far more than just a series of paintings; it is an exploration of nature as an unbounded reality coextensive with the breadth of human imagination, showing us the trailhead and inviting us to see how far the path goes.  

About the Artist

Alex Landon Richardson is a contemporary painter whose practice asks questions about human interaction with the land through outdoors leisure activities in a North American context. Born in Vancouver in 1986, Richardson was raised predominantly in the small village of Erin, Ontario, with periods of childhood spent living in Australia. She obtained an HBA from Western University in London, Ontario in 2008, and an MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London, UK in 2013. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is held in private collections in Europe, North America and South Africa. She participated in the Joya: arte + ecología / AiR residency program in Spain in 2013 and the Life Collection Artist Exchange program in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2014. She has spent the past four years as a faculty member in the Fine and Performing Arts department at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario, during which period she was also Curator at the WKP Kennedy Gallery. She recently relocated to Caledon, Ontario to refocus on her art-making practice full-time. She is represented by Coldstream Fine Art in Toronto, Ontario.