Time captured in a motion of the hand across canvas, of pencil across paper, of thought across the mind… images stored for future use. This is what’s at the root of an exhibition of works by Montreal artist, Peter Krausz, at Toronto’s Mira Godard Gallery. Aptly titled Then and Now, it spans several decades of his long and prolific career and includes works rarely seen, some in fact never shown before.

They have been living in Krausz’ virtual repository of art and inspiration, many in inchoate state as hundreds of sketches. They include his powerful Cariera series of paintings documenting abandoned copper and iron mines in southern Spain and Sicily. Departing drastically from the sleek, sensual Mediterranean landscapes Krausz has been producing in the past few years, these bold compositions are tackled with a very different brushstroke. Colour dominates here, the earth gilded, burnt, on fire, with swathes of what looks like molten lava spilling down gullies, staining the landscape. There is raw beauty in these paintings, echoing Edward Burtynsky’s photographs of nature scarred by human activity. In some there’s a hint, prelude to the flowing, gentle landscapes that will preoccupy the artist’s creative mind; in others there rumbles a very different energy beneath. In one painting the earth is scorched red, with giant pits opening in the ground, gaping craters of alien origin.

Segovia (2014)
Ink jet on Hahnemühle paper printed 2015
26 x 33cm

These works are accompanied by a series titled Gare de triage, where the artist’s focus recedes from the vast expanse of land to the intimate view from his studio windows, one he has been documenting for the past 20 years. It shows the same scene: a railway yard, in changing seasons, and circumstances, as the old structures are slowly being replaced by a modern university campus. Skies predominate in these compositions, the buildings leaning against the left frame, with the tracks at the centre leading the eye to the horizon. In a monochromatic, winter scene, the sky hangs low and murky above the bending lines of the rails, while in another composition, billowing clouds tinged gold with the setting sun tumble over the suddenly diminutive trees and constructions. Krausz could paint this view with his eyes closed, so familiar it has become, but in spite of that, or perhaps because of this familiarity, each work stands on its own, the memory of the repeated creative gesture allowing for something new to appear every time. Unrestrained, loose, these works show a very different side of the artist’s output, engaging the viewer in a way his elegant, distant landscapes cannot.

They are, however, an intrinsic part of the exhibition, some freshly painted, and as always impossibly aesthetically seductive. Inspired by the artist’s beloved Mediterranean, places like Andalusia and Sicily, but also his homeland of Romania, they are comprised of the Et in Arcadia Ego and Winter Drawings on Summer Notes series, and are like a ribbon wrapped around the versatile visual offering that is this show, the final serving, a dessert as it were.

Then and Now is a document of one man’s artistic process, of the power of memory, and of art that transforms it, transfers it into images that in turn create new mnemonic respositories.

But perhaps the most intriguing, and standing entirely apart from the rest of the presentation is Peter Krausz – Photographs 1969 – 2015 series, showing in Toronto for the very first time. A mini exhibition in itself, it takes the viewer on quite a journey, from Rome to Montreal, from Northern Romania to Mount Athos in Greece. There are wonderful intimate shots, scenes captured in movement, or in mourning as in a funeral scene wrapped in shadows, or artistically cropped quiet compositions. They show another side of the artist’s talent, and a glimpse into his creative mind, as we follow his lens across the world and peer together with him into the many faces of the human lot.

Then and Now is a document of one man’s artistic process, of the power of memory, and of art that transforms it, transfers it into images that in turn create new mnemonic respositories. 

Peter Krausz Then and Now 
Early Photographs and New Paintings
Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto
April 21—May 19, 2018