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“It is the act of painting that allows me to live in harmony with myself, my work and my world,” —Barry McCarthy
Born in Deep River, Ontario in 1951, Barry McCarthy grew up experiencing the vast shores of Lake Superior and the dense woods of the far north. McCarthy’s deep connection with the landscape of his youth continues to inform his work.
After studying fine art at the University of Guelph, Barry McCarthy’s appreciation of 17th century Dutch landscape painting stimulated his passion for watercolour. He developed an outstanding technique to convey soft impressionist light in the meedium of watercolour. In scale alone, often on paper five feet by three feet, and in absolute command of the transparency of this medium, the artist achieved memorable results and challenged the very concept of this traditional art form.
Enlightened by his constant travels throughout Canada and abroad, McCarthy always seeks new imagery and ideas for his compositions. McCarthy’s evocative watercolour studies and oil paintings show the gently rolling landscape of southern Ontario around the artist’s home in Elora, and wondrously detailed studies of Nova Scotia with its windswept coastlines and haunting lone houses in east coast landscapes. McCarthy chooses his best studies in watercolour and commits them to a large format in oil.
McCarthy’s work transforms the common object, ordinary person, or familiar landscape. He looks for subjects or situations imbued not merely with beauty but with a sense of angst and tension. Through his skilled use of colour, light, and texture he leaves the viewer with a resonant and haunting afterimage. We recognize the subject but, more than merely viewing it, we experience a moment in time. Whatever the subject matter he chooses to paint, Barry McCarthy reveals its spirit, its inner self, and its mysticism.