Eric Atkinson is a major Canadian abstract landscape painter, whose extensive career as an artist and art educator straddles both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. A visual poet of the landscape, his paintings are created on the studio floor by working from all four sides of a canvas. He disrupts the picture plane, an amalgam of sand and glue, with incised calligraphic markings that suggest the natural rhythms of wind and water, of sculpted landforms created over the course of thousands of years from geological erosion – a layering of time and ancient memory. His paintings are not literal depictions, but expressions of the interpenetration of inner and outer landscapes, of the integral relationship between the processes of art making and the forces of nature, or as Atkinson states, “the forms echo the geological structure of the land and the calligraphy left by man and nature upon its surface.” Born in Hartlepool, England, in 1928, Atkinson was the assistant to Harry Thubron at Leeds College of Art from 1955 to 1961 before he succeeded him as Head of Fine Art. He emigrated to Canada in 1969 and became Dean of Applied Arts at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. The Basic Course at Leeds is now recognized as one of the most innovative post-Bauhaus education programs in Europe, a radical change in art educational thinking that values self-expression and the creative process over the transfer of technical skills and a permanent set of artistic values that also became part of Atkinson’s legacy at Fanshawe College.
Storm Lake Huron
watercolour and wax on paper