According to artist Mary Conover, landscapes are as much about human energy as physical place. “This series of abstract images of the ocean [was] taken in an area of St. Barths called The Windy Coast. It is the last untouched place on that island. It’s what the French pirates would have seen for the first time. The ocean is beating in – untamed, elemental. I’m trying to capture a force and presence beyond our comprehension,” says Conover, whose work is being exhibited in Toronto for the first time at the Navillus Gallery in a show titled After Glow.
Though she began her career as a fashion photographer and photojournalist for the International Herald Tribune and then Condé Nast, her recent photographs search for something wild and eternal within the landscape. To depict the intangible, Conover enlarges her photographs until the forms are unrecognizable. The effect is elegant and utterly minimalist. From boiling storms to the vastness of the desert, land and light evoke the human experience. Sometimes hot and exuding an unrestrained energy, other times cool and serene, her photographs challenge viewers to find themselves within the fervor of the landscape.
Raised in Virginia and Washington in the prominent family of Senator John Warner (noted for his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor), Conover learned to paint alongside her parents on the coast of Cape Cod in the summer. Her grandfather, famed American art collector Paul Mellon, was also a scion of the Mellon banking family. Conover’s grandmother was a friend and pupil of Carl Jung. The psychologist’s theories on alchemy have influenced the way Conover approaches her art. Educated at the Philadelphia College of Art and the Corcoran School of Art, her artistic training has been broadened by extensive travel and an ongoing study of philosophy.
Navillus Gallery’s After Glow exhibition also features work by celebrated American designer Gloria Vanderbilt, as well as Canadian painter and former British advertising director Mike Smalley. The show captures these artists’ creative outpouring, in the wake of important lives and multi-faceted artistic careers. Their works are not only monumental but inspiring and charged with the passion of lives fully lived.
After Glow is curated by Harvard and Cornell-educated Taylor Sullivan. The gallery exhibits Canadian and International contemporary artists and is located at 110 Davenport in an elegant postmodernist building designed by L.A.-based architect Barton Myers.