Elizabeth Lennie



May 28 - June 17, 2020

Using various sources of inspiration I create liquid landscapes using thin washes and gestural brush strokes of diluted oil paint to recreate the experience of being in and around water. This body of work is not focused on the literal replication of water but includes the experience of summer at the lake and swimming at night in the illuminated and contained space of the backyard pool. The pool paintings are an extension of the beach and lake paintings of my past work and include figures both in and out of the water. I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of swimming in illuminated water set against the endless dark of night.


The night swim paintings are an homage to the exhilaration of the unknown, the possibility of transformative change and the romance of youth.


With the recent directive to isolate socially my imagination has drifted back and forth between lake and pool, between a sense of containment and the boundless stretch of lake. The lake paintings are familiar, a touchstone to my past work in uncertain times and
I found myself returning to this theme while in isolation, alone in my studio dreaming of vast space and wondering about the path forward. In confinement one dreams of space. In boundless space one sets boundaries. At this time my practice sits somewhere in the liminal space between the two.

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Elizabeth Lennie lives in mid-town Toronto Canada. Her paintings are collected internationally, and are included in the collections of the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame and the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital.

Water has been the backdrop to the significant events in my life. The reconstruction of radiant moments that exist in memory determine the images I choose to paint, of swimming in the liquid landscapes of northern Ontario and the aqua waters of the Caribbean. I work with oil paint on canvas, layering thin washes with thicker impasto, occasionally working on wood panel and incorporating cold wax and graphite. The images are often curative and explore the memory myth of summer, and the dual reality of the Canadian hot and cold climate. The paintings are the map of my world, in both abstract and narrative form. I look for archetypes, in an attempt to explore notions of self and community within the resonance of shared memory. It is the past/present/future illusion that I seek to determine in my work. This drives me to explore and paint the same image repeatedly, looking for an entry point into the subconscious, occasionally scratching notes into the paint as symbols to carry the work forward. By isolating and extracting vibrant colours in a signature soft-focus style, a utopian childhood is recalled, creating the memory myth of shared experience here on earth.

“How remarkable it is that you have chosen as two of your recurring themes, swimming in summer in the Canadian Shield, and skating on those same lakes when winter descends. Remarkable because you have lived your whole life in Canada, in Ontario even, and yet you have understood what is best about the place where you live. Most people have to move far away to figure that sort of thing out. They can only understand the nature of the mountain when they have seen it from the plain. You, my dear friend, have the wisdom to see the beauty of where you are, while you are there, and that ability is as rare as...the world becoming a skating rink over which you can fly.” — Johnny Wales, Sado Island, Japan

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