Arabella magazine feature article on Charles Carson

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Charles Carson

Artist to Collect

above, RĂŠflexion, Contemporary Art Sculpture, acrylic and mixed media, cube has six faces 24" x 24", Mosaic Movement right top, Vitrail en transparence, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 24", Mosaic Movement right middle, Vision nouvelle nouvelles, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 24", Mosaic Movement right bottom, Nouveau regard, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48", Mosaic Movement

A Brilliant Jewel written by Debra Usher To leave his mark in the world, Charles Carson became a painter. Thanks to this choice to pursue his unique talent, the fascination with his work will last long past his lifetime. His art, which is both organic and spiritual, often comes as a revelation once we become more sensitive to his message. To discover Charles Carson is to rediscover nature – and, for most of us, it’s love at first sight. The term “Carsonism” reflects Carson’s allconsuming devotion to original painting. He is the innovator of a unique pictorial language or style, of which he is the father and founder. His mosaic technique has a complexity of colour and vibrancy, yet does not leave us clues to his secret. He knows where he is going and, as his audience and art lovers, we simply have to follow. His brushstrokes on the canvas are akin to the soaring notes found in the best alto sax solos. May one dare say David Sanborn and John Coltrane in the same breath as Charles Carson? History will decide that, but in his own time Carson gives a vibrant tip of the hat to the incomparable mystery and uniqueness of life – all of which are reflected in his canvases. From almost the beginning it was understood that Charles Carson would be a success. The perfect coordination of skill, movement, pace and organization and the incredible brightness of his palette remind us of the wonderful paintings from 1950-1960 of Jean-Paul Riopelle. But Carson, by his clarity and transparency, shows us he is different and of equal quality. It is an abundance of colour and density that sets him apart. In Carson’s work he presents us with a stunning depth to his palette, as he slips from abstraction to figurative within a single brush stroke. He takes us on a trip through a universe of varying dimensions; to discover a world in which living forms are born of his own dreams and reflections – on Earth, over the sea or via the flight of a bird. Charles Carson has embraced his chosen mode of expression with the passion of a master, but he also possesses the nerve of an adventurer and the intellect of a historian. He has devoted himself entirely to his art since 1983, participating in numerous exhibitions in Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia and South America. Today, Carson has gained recognition at the international level and become known among art

Ruissellement d'automne, acrylic on canvas, 30" x 30", Mosaic Movement

historians and consultants for his unique style. He is considered by critics to be one of the great contemporary artists, having learned the pictorial language once spoken by Jean-Paul Riopelle, Jackson Pollock, Sam Francis and Wassily Kandinsky, and he has forged forward – translating and updating this style in wholly original ways these earlier geniuses never even imagined. A “Natural” Talent Born in Montreal in 1957, Carson discovered his calling as he approached his teens. At this time, his artistic heroes included Renaissance greats Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, as well as the modern masters Turner and Matisse, all of whom Carson says “devoted their lives to the pursuit of excellence and whose art continues to move people generations after their passing. Their genius is a constant source of inspiration.” Yet, young Carson found himself frustrated with his own futile attempts at originality. “My imagination was both my greatest asset and my

page 122 Artist to Collect: Charles Carson

Arabella Winter Celebrations 2012

above, Vent du Nord aux parfums fleuris, acrylic on canvas, 96" x 144", Mosaic Movement below, Soleil d'automne, acrylic on canvas, 96" x 144", Mosaic Movement

Brise, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 40", Mosaic Movement

above, Parfums printanier, acrylic on canvas, 30" x 30", Mosaic Movement left, Couleurs en croisade, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 40", Mosaic Movement

above, Champs aux doux parfums rosés, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40, Mosaic Movement left, Fleurs sauvages en éclosion, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48, Mosaic Movement

worst enemy,” he admits. “I had the sense of a higher place beyond – a unique destiny, other universes to discover. In my mind, I dreamt of a creative life that was not subject to anyone’s authority. Refusing to follow a predetermined path…I was determined not to offer my work for sale until I had achieved my goal of creating a new pictorial language without any direct resemblance to an existing style or technique.” So, Carson embarked on a quest to find his vision – to Europe, Asia, the US and South America, living in a dream world fueled by the sea, forests, wildlife and his lofty personal ideals. “I wanted to live new experiences, artistically as well as culturally,” he recalls. These many journeys gave rise to years of disciplined research to develop the pictorial language with which Carson is now identified. “I continued to perfect my technique for juxtaposing colours, using acrylics to create vivid abstract forms,” he explains. “I spared no experimentation with special effects. I would drop bags of paint from the roof of the house

and rush to see the splatters they created on the sidewalk! Or, I would use a drill to spin a panel I had coated with different colours of acrylic paint. Not to mention the balloons filled with paint that I would burst over canvases! I even used an old bicycle wheel to spread colours on a canvas to see the effect it produced.” After residing in South America for 10 years, he also stumbled upon the true inspiration for his groundbreaking art: the environment. Carson is strong, but somewhere in Colombia he found that even the strongest river cannot flow uphill. He became infatuated with the world’s fragile beauty and grew indignant in the face of man’s lack of conscience. It did not take him long to find out the world was upside down and when he discovered this, he sought to make it right. In Carson’s view, art should capture the beauty of the environment and simultaneously instill a desire in others to preserve that beauty. “I am very sensitive to ecological and environmental issues, so nature is the source of my inspiration and I strive to represent it in different forms

Artist to Collect: Charles Carson page 127

above, Vue à vol d'oiseaux, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 40", Mosaic Movement right, Vibration, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 30", Mosaic Movement

transformed by the mind’s eye. My paintings are vehicles for communication, communion; living works.” His art, being widely collected, attests to its appeal. His auction records at esteemed houses affirm this. In Search of a Personal Style Finding his passion for painting in 1970, Charles Carson began to work within traditional motifs, gaining inspiration from his surroundings. These first paintings were figurative. However, in the end, he found they were inhibited and unsatisfactory for embodying his artistic needs. On the journey to develop a more individually suited approach, abstract and figurative gestures were combined. This technique, along with his unique depiction of pictorial image as written universal glyph, distanced Carson from other stylistically-familiar motifs. At thirty-three, he travelled to Latin America where the spirit of inspiration gleaned from the South American landscape led him to a new personal era of expression. He made a name for

page 128 Artist to Collect: Charles Carson

himself in Colombia, where he held numerous exhibitions and developed an amicable relationship with the great Colombian painter, Fernando Botero. While many native artists left for Europe and America in search of fame and fortune, Carson found international recognition emanated from his stay in South America. The influence that painters, topography and people of Colombia exerted upon the young artist, and the vibrant and ancient culture he absorbed, informs much of his work today. It would seem that Kandinsky’s words from his immortal little book, The Spiritual in Art, published in 1910 (“The boldness of colour in a painting must attract the spectator forcefully, and at the same time mask the deeper content.”) left a lasting impression on the young artist. The impact of Carson’s colours grew in the tropical vistas, far away from the winter of his youth – those frigid nights where shapes haunted his compositions, giving them a certain dimensional presence. In those cold days, he learned to focus on the hidden dynamic that

Arabella Winter Celebrations 2012

above, Floraison marine, acrylic on canvas, 30" x 30", Carsonism Movement previous page, Harmonie, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 60", Carsonism Movement

so energizes his work. He paints movement with a technique and energy appropriated from masterful predecessors like Mondrian, Jackson Pollock or van Gogh. Those legendary figures accomplished extraordinary feats, but none worked in a manner so unique that his style could only be identified by his name. Carson, on the other hand, has “Carsonism.” The Birth of “Carsonism” The word “Carsonism” was coined by noted critics, such as Louis Bruens, co-founder of Académie Internationale des Beaux-Arts du Québec (AIBAQ), who were wildly impressed by Carson’s work and the sheer volume of intense paintings produced by one young man. Yet, these critics were at a loss to find a suitable descriptor for his expressive technique, which surpassed the traditional categories of impressionism, expressionism and surrealism. Lise Grondines, art historian, graduate of the Paris Académie française des sciences

page 132 Artist to Collect: Charles Carson

et des lettres and past president of the Salon International des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, told the artist: “‘Carsonism’ places you among avantgarde leaders on the Canadian and international art scene and can be considered key in global abstract contemporary art. Your paintings are refreshing, strongly executed and demonstrate a rare expression.” As an emerging artist, Carson participated in studio classes and attended seminars, everseeking a unique pictorial technique reflective of his broad base of experience. His artistic palette as a colourist incorporates both abstract and figurative vision, allowing his interpretive landscapes, marine scenes and still life works to be infused with an affirming passion, within the structure of a composition. Carson’s travels were the impetus for his strong feelings regarding the social and ecological problems of today’s societies, which brought about a major turning point in his works. Nature now occupies a primary place in his creations.

Arabella Winter Celebrations 2012

Petit bouquet de tendresse, acrylic on canvas, 16" x 11", Carsonism Movement

above, Parc Tairona II, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 36", Carsonism Movement left, H창vre de paix haut en couleurs, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 40", Carsonism Movement

Bouquet de fleurs, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 30", Carsonism Movement

His tropical scenes bring to mind a Caribbean sunset, yet Carson produces even greater depth and power than would seem conceivable from the paint. What technique manages to get such overwhelming verve from colour, and yet such intricate detail? Again, it can only be described as “Carsonism.” Recognizing “Carsonism” When We See It Through his search for an individual style, Carson has successfully gained freedom of expression in his imagery. He has also achieved a novel way of representing nature, combining his mind’s-eye vision with observed landscapes or abstractions in compositions whose detailed colour lends an aesthetic poetry to the image. But how does a painter consolidate miniscule droplets of floral energy into such complex images? Carson’s style concentrates on the essentials of structure, the purity of forms and transparency in employing colour. Each painting has an extraordinary depth more fascinating than the most masterful system of realistic perspective. The impression of freshness and energy we find

page 136 Artist to Collect: Charles Carson

Éveil fleuri, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 30", Carsonism Movement

in Carson’s paintings comes, in part, from the placement of his broad strokes – discreet yet efficacious, animating the whole composition. Colours are the primary elements in each of his works. The entire surface of each canvas is covered with generous portions of paint originating from a pure and contrasting palette. Intense and luminous, Carson’s chosen colours imbue his paintings with a distinct power to imagine our world in radically original ways. His physical control is always evident in bold strokes with a masterful technique. While brilliant gobs of oil paint fight for space on the artist’s canvases, on further examination, more discrete imagery is revealed. In 1997, noted art expert Caroline Bruens explained that “Carson takes his models and dips them in a bath of light, giving them back their original essence, allowing them to reach through this luminous, colourful, multi-dimensional fog-like atmosphere. In viewing Carson’s artistry, we find ourselves confronted by universal landscapes, with an open invitation to visit a new and unexpected galaxy of vibrant colours.”

Arabella Winter Celebrations 2012

Transparence florale, acrylic on canvas, 12" x 10", Carsonism Movement

The Legacy of an Artistic Revolutionary It is simply impossible to ignore an artist who has probed new artistic values in a way that challenges the trends, genres or styles that dominate today's mainstream contemporary art market. Charles Carson’s ability to imagine, interpret and transpose his unique vision of the world around him with both strength and subtlety has demanded that the fine art community acknowledge his prolific career and the legacy he will leave behind. Carson was inducted into the AIBAQ in 2007 as “Master of Fine Arts,” and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including Artist of the Year at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Academia XXI Gala in 2009. He is also honoured to count among his esteemed collectors Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, who acquired one of his works at an exhibition in Boston. Today, Carson is featured on permanent exhibition at Inglewood Fine Arts in Calgary, where more than 40 of his works showcasing the “Carsonism” movement can be viewed. The gallery focuses on spotlighting a select few artists

Bouquet de fleurs, acrylic on canvas, 16" x 12", Carsonism Movement

in an effort to give visitors a more enjoyable visual experience. Carson’s close friendship with Michel Arseneau, owner and director of Inglewood Fine Arts, began over 20 years ago when Arseneau was pursuing his professional career in Montreal. “Michel purchased one of my paintings through my agent at the time while I was still living in South America. We met shortly thereafter during one of my trips to Montreal, and we kept in touch over the years, sharing our passion for art,” says Carson. “Michel’s recent relocation to Calgary provided an ideal occasion for him to become my representative there and to introduce my work to the evolving art market of Western Canada.” And Western Canada is a richer place for it. As for the future, Carson has decided to devote the next three years of his career to creating museum pieces. “I have long wanted to paint murals and large formats, and the opportunity has arisen for me to do so for the European and middle-eastern markets. I will therefore be indulging myself in travels and painting, pushing myself to new limits of creation,” he reveals.

Artist to Collect: Charles Carson page 137

above, L'oiseau d'or dans mon jardin, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48, Carsonism Movement left, Le chant des oiseaux colorĂŠ, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 40", Carsonism Movement

above, Au jardin de mes amours, acrylic on canvas, 58" x 38", Carsonism Movement right, Bodegon - El canto matinal, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48", Carsonism Movement

35 Years of Creation From his adolescence, Charles Carson’s passion for visual art inspired him to connect with audiences on a deep level. Acknowledging that abstract art does not always appeal to everyone, he strove to make it more accessible. “To me, artistic expression is so much more than a trite gesture or a red dot on a black background. An artist who has something to say must surpass and reinvent himself,” says Carson. “My profound desire is to bequeath a body of work that resonates with future generations.” “The accomplishment that gives me the greatest pride – other than my family – is my 35-year career as an artist. I am so fortunate to have been able to earn my living through my art and to have achieved total freedom in the pursuit of my artistic endeavours,” Carson states. “The positive response I have received from critics has given me renewed energy to paint, but I do not allow the honours and accolades to be the main source of my motivation as an artist.” Carson believes an artist must forever derive his inspiration from his inner self. “The act of painting remains as natural to me as a beating heart. Painting is like breathing,” he notes. “For over 35 years I have chosen to sustain my creative instincts. Yet, while the energy is sustainable, it is also fragile. The next challenge lies in keeping my feet on the ground while my head is in the clouds. A painter must control the form, but allow the spirit of the moment to work its magic on the canvas. Posing brush to canvas and making appear from one’s imagination something that did not previously exist – my task is to produce an understanding and appreciation of this new creation, and to make it accessible.” There is little doubt that Carson has carved out an artistic legacy that will influence the face of abstraction for years to come. Art critics around the world agree his abstract works should be understood as masterpieces in terms of contemporary abstract art. They are refreshing, powerfully executed and of rare expressiveness. Their quality, originality and dynamic spirit lead us forward, uplift us and fill us with joy. Part of the information for Charles Carson was taken from another interview from Fine Art Magazine. To see more of his work visit Inglewood Fine Art at 1223B – 9th Avenue, S.E. Calgary, Alberta, Canada, or telephone 1.403.262-5011.

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