Plain Air in Niagara Falls

Halyna Kostiuk, Toronto.

A well known Ukrainian artist from Bukovyna, Ivan Salevych came to Toronto this summer to exhibit his paintings and sculptures in KUMF Gallery. The exhibit was very successful. Many people admired his sophisticated compositions, refined palette, and exquisite sculpture.

Maria Antoniv, Natalia Laluq and I decided to organize a plain air in Niagara Falls – to show our Ukrainian guest around, to paint, and to have fun.

June 14, 2015 was a beautiful sunny summer day. First, we came to the Art Gallery of Niagara Falls to see William Kurelek paintings. Sadly, they are kept in a wet basement with a puddle on the floor. Nonetheless, Kurelek’s art, and especially his Passion of Christ, make a powerful unforgettable impression.

At first, the artists made the sketches of the falls, then we went to the whirlpool. Salevych, Laluq and Antoniv were standing almost at the same spot and painted practically the same landscape, but the results couldn’t be more different. Salevych created a vibrant expressive landscape with the quick and sure pastel strokes on paper. The artist used the side of pastel chalk, rather than the end of it, applying colors in the narrow rectangular blocks. Piling them up at one another, he composed an amazing emotionally charged scenery; of all the trees he singled out a tall and, despite the summer, almost leafless one. This brown austere tree only emphasizes the lavish water view. Working predominantly with colors and shapes, Salevych conveyed a strong narrative of intense feelings and deep warmth. It’s typical for his landscapes – to communicate mood, rather than exact resemblance.

Natalia Laluq, is a distinctive Canadian artist, recently attracted a lot of attention with her large-scale Batman paintings. Some of them were exhibited a few days ago in a group show at Hart House Gallery. Laluq used a pop culture symbol to draw public attention to the war in Ukraine. Through the injuries of Batman, the artist shows Ukrainian soldiers’ plight. In Niagara she created a composition that included both the sidewalk and a waterscape. A person on a bicycle moves toward the viewers, while the river current and the wind run away from them. The artist’s manner of painting in swirling short lines commands the whole picture an impression of constant movement, whirling wind, and dynamic motion.

Maria Antoniv is known for her charming flower compositions and arrangements. In Niagara she painted a bright airy landscape with wide, seemingly chaotic brushstrokes applied effortlessly. Light blue, pink and beige dominate her palette. The picture absorbed a lot of sunshine, the water droplets above the falls and gives a festive impression. Like a bunch of flowers, this landscape excites and stirs up joyful feelings.
Each artist in their own way transmitted the beauty and vitality of Niagara Falls and its surroundings, and showed different ways of seeing and realizing their visions.

In the evening we admired an unparalleled sunset in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which was the perfect way to round out the perfect day.