In this electric oil on aluminum, a tree with neon-pink carved initials confronts the viewer amidst a dense forest otherwise absent of human presence. Contemporary Canadian artist Kim Dorland’s thickly applied oil paintings (in this case, on aluminum) employ a bold visual language rooted in abstraction in order to explore themes of his personal experiences: growing up impoverished, falling in love, and the challenges modern society poses to the natural environment. Dorland’s sculptural paintings are both quietly reflective and boldly visceral. In this work, strong visual elements of line, contrast, and colour evoke a frenetic and irresistible energy. The thickness of Kim Dorland’s paint application often requires bolts in its display to support the weight of the many layers of paint.
|Provenance||The Artist; Private Collection, Victoria, Canada.|
Kim Dorland is a contemporary Canadian painter best known for his visceral depictions of densely forested landscapes, trailer parks, raucous parties, and zombies. Driven equally by his fascination with the materiality of oil paint and his interest in exploring his own life experiences, Dorland’s paintings subtly explore the relationship humans have to the landscape they inhabit. His paintings offer a historical intervention on the landscape tradition in art history. Dorland’s art often includes hidden symbols that reference the relationship humans have with the landscape they inhabit. Graffiti, cars, toys and modern infrastructure populate Dorland’s landscapes. In so doing, his works challenge preconceived notions of the Canadian wilderness, especially the idea of terra nullius—the void, pristine, virgin land often idealized by historical Canadian painting and art history.
Doland’s paintings offer a fresh adaptation of the legacy of the Group of Seven, especially the bold, expressive colours and compositions of its founder Tom Thompson’s unique interpretation of the Canadian landscape. Indeed, Curator Katerina Atanassova describes Dorland as “Tom Thompson on acid.” Dorland’s aggressively contemporary take on the landscape tradition established by the Group of Seven illustrates how Canadian artists working today challenge and expand what it means to engage with nature and landscape today. In so doing, the artist forms a dialogue with celebrated twentieth century Canadian painting technique rather than a rejection of tradition. As Dorland says of his work, “when you’re dealing with only the landscape, you have to tune up the material a lot to push it into an interesting, uncomfortable place.” Dorland’s practice is also indebted to the lasting legacy of the Transcendentalist painter Emily Carr, whose works expressed a unique engagement with the west coast and in so doing urged for a regional rather than pan-Canadian nationalism rooted in an engagement with landscape.
Born in 1974 in Wainwright, Canada, Dorland went on to study at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver before earning his MFA from York University in Toronto in 2003. Dorland was also an artist-in-residence at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in 2014. In 2017, Equinox Gallery in Vancouver featured the artist’s newest paintings in a solo show, “Nemophilia,” and he has shown widely throughout Canada and the United States.
As one of Canada’s leading contemporary painters, Dorland exhibits frequently in Canada from coast to coast at the institution and gallery level with regular art fair participation in Toronto and New York. His works are part of the collections of The Art Gallery of Alberta, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Bank of Montréal, Royal Bank of Canada, and The Glenbow Museum among many other private and international collections.
Dorland lives and works in Toronto, Canada.