Bouquets for Canada’s 150 Birthday

Halyna Kostiuk for NP-UN.

Maria Antoniv’s art show “Sesquicentennial Blooms” at Gallery Hittite was not only the artist’s bouquet to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, but also a result of a long and rewarding relationship with flowers – Maria’s favorite subject to paint.

There are many ways to portray somebody or something. For example, Charlotte Gray has created an exquisite image of Canada through the careful collection of letters written by Canadians over the course of two hundred years.

Exploring the flowers, which represent Canadian provinces and territories, Maria Antoniv generalized their images and created the representations of them as emblems for each province and territory. They appear before viewers in all their regal magnificence – powerful and charming at the same time.

Probably, the most challenging for the artist was to depict a white trillium – floral symbol of Ontario. The whiteness in petals is accentuated by colored strips and streaks. They emphasize clear and pure white tone and enrich it with hues which provide depth to the composition as a whole. Three white petals seem to be floating in a rich deep red background – the perfect combination of powerful and subtle hues.

Red in “Western Red Lily Saskatchewan” is worlds apart from deep royal red in “White Trillium Ontario”. Lily’s red petals and buds are closer to orange – simple unassuming plant. However, from Antoniv’ painting it is easy to picture the endless prairies of Saskatchewan covered in those bright blooms – a stunning, breathtaking sight.

The artist places same colors in “context” of different tones and hues which gives them different meaning and significance. White blossoms in “Pacific Dogwood British Columbia” almost fading in a light green background with white accents. This delicate branch in full bloom makes nearly ethereal impression of something fragile and beautiful.

Yellowish-white “Mayflower Nova Scotia” is almost engulfed by intense deep yellow background.

“Wild Rose Alberta” evokes vivid memories of one’s grandmother’s garden. Antoniv manages to show even the most modest of the flowers in a way that they look impressive.

Tiny blooms in “Lady’s Slipper Prince Edward Island” are barely visible against a purple background. Pale little flowers blink on a darker groundwork. The artist has created a very tender image with tentative brushstrokes.

Blue irises of Quebec seem to be depicted through hot air as were glimpsed by the artist through high bonfire.

In “Prairie Crocus Manitoba” Antoniv offers a burst of blue. She zooms in on spring blooms, brings them close for everyone to enjoy. Gorgeous flowers with yellow centers drew viewer’s gaze with surprising power.

Antoniv’s images of flowers are intimate and monumental, precise and generalized, and above all – burst with energy and expression. Beauty of Canada is brimming in these paintings.