Scott Forsyth: Capturing the Land’s Grandeur

Symmetrical Serenity, Photography 27 x 16

As Ansel Adams felt about the American landscape, particularly Yosemite Valley, the Canadian Photographer Scott Forsyth seems to feel about the entire terrain of his own native county.   
    “I was born and raised in southern Ontario,” Forsyth, a family doctor/artist in the tradition of poet/physician William Carlos Williams, states, “along the shoreline of the Great Lakes –– remnants of the last Ice Age containing one fifth of the world’s fresh water. I grew up with the rhythmic pulse of waves lapping on a stony beach, and falling asleep to the sound of a fog horn aiding cargo ships in the thick darkness.”
    Forsyth is even more articulate with his camera, depicting what he describes as “the sheer magnitude and diversity of Canada’s geographical regions, which captured his imagination at an early age. That he drew and painted as a child beside his grandmother, a landscape painter, has obviously influenced his approach to his current medium, which he discovered during his internship. Although drawn to photography by what he refers to as “its physical connection to reality, through the camera’s literal translation of light energy into raw electronic data,” unlike photographic purists who adhere to older methods, he takes a painterly approach, shooting digitally and never hesitating to use Photoshop to edit and tweak his “digital negatives” in the process of creating his large-scale giclee prints on paper.
    He also employs techniques such as multiple exposures, elapsed time, and variations of shutter speed and exposure duration, to create images ranging stylistically from sharp-focus realism to Impressionism.
    At times his coloristic enhancement of his pictures results in a chromatic heightening reminiscent of the Fauvist painters. In his glicee print “Symmetrical Serenity,” for one glowing example, in which a lone silhouetted sailor in a canoe traverses a vast purple lake, further enlivened by the golden curving of a flowing wave, under a pale purple sky and a deeper purple mountain range, the hues are as intense as those in a Fauvist canvas by Matisse, Derain, or Vlaminck.
    Also vibrant, in a somewhat more subdued nocturnal manner perhaps closer in spirit to Symbolists and Romantics such as Redon and Turner, Forsyth’s “Lava Light Meets the Milky Way,” shows a multitude of stars, sprinkled like diamond dust over blue velvet, across an endless night sky hovering over black hills and a body of water lit by a brilliant burst of fiery gold. 
    Indeed, the painterly effects that Forsyth achieves with his medium appear endlessly varied. “Timeless Reflection,” in which an entire pine forest can be seen hovering over, and partially engulfing, four tiny cabins on the opposite shore with craggy rocks and boulders in the foreground, evokes one of Marsden Hartley’s rugged Maine marine scenes. “Beacon of the Past” is a vision of a lighthouse jutting over rocks, which melds Hopper-esque desolation with a hint of Surrealism, while “Circle of Time,” is a metaphysical fantasy verging on total abstraction, in which a huge blue and white spiral suggesting amplified moonlight upstages craggy mountain peaks. And in his poetically titled digital print on fine art paper “Evening’s Fleeting Palette,” a sunset landscape affords Forsyth the opportunity to exercise his subtlest coloristic skills with an exquisite plethora of delicate, pink, gold, blue, and verdant green hues.
    “Given the immense scale of the world’s second largest nation,” Scott Forsyth states, “I have chosen to approach the Canadian landscape from its seven natural (physiographic) regions. I will travel to places of particular significance within each of these regions over my lifetime, to create a balanced portrait of the country.”
    Judging from this striking exhibition, it would appear that he is well on his way.
–– Maureen Flynn

Scott Forsyth, Agora Gallery, 530 West 25th Street, March 28 - April 17, 2014. Reception: Thursday, April 3, 6 - 8pm

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