Nestled in amongst the bustling streets of New Town, Open Eye Gallery presents a small exhibition of snowscapes from Edinburgh artist Donald Provan. The exhibition is situated in a large room of an old New Town house, equipped with a fireplace and bay windows, creating a spaciousness and presence of natural light that is sadly often lost in contemporary city galleries.
The single room exhibition includes just over a dozen pieces by Donald Provan. The works ooze with tranquillity and calmness. Devoid of any activity or movement, they inspire viewers to take a deep breath and sink into the beautiful peacefulness offered by the landscapes that stretch out before them. Silhouetted trees reflected in ponds of water stand firm against the onslaught of snow and wind that covertly breaks down the vibrant floral beauty of summer months.
Meanwhile, storms of snow fall on some of the scenes, creating a translucent foreground. Far from taking away from the calming peace of the paintings, this barrage of snow manages to perfectly compliment the tranquillity behind it by conjuring that sense of cascading stillness that only the gentle fall of snow can bring. It is only through this veil of frozen movement that the viewer can look onto the frosty landscape that seems to extend infinitely behind as it disappears into cloud.
Thaw, a small multi-media piece hidden in the corner of the room, tells a slightly different tale than the rest, showing a bleaker scene. As winter gradually transitions into spring, the soft blanket of snow recedes and melts, leaving an exposed brown slush beneath. The trees seem somehow closer to death in this scene; rigidly erect and uniform they have lost the peculiarities that signify the life of a natural being. Thaw works as a wonderful juxtaposition against the other paintings, hinting at the desolation and achromaticity that can accompany periods of outstanding natural beauty.
In a time when art is becoming increasingly political, abstracted, and confused, Provan takes painting back to its roots: the simple but powerful beauty of the rural landscape.
Image: Rory Biggs O’May