In the Wake of Disaster, a Canadian Painter Shows the Beauty of Nepal—and Gives Back
It was only by chance that “A Trek Across Nepal,” a new solo show by the Canadian artist Marie Danielle Leblanc, opened on April 25th—the same day that a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked Nepal, claiming more than 8,000 lives and flattening UNESCO-recognized buildings in the Kathmandu Valley.
With tremors from aftershocks continuing to inflict damage and the number of casualties climbing, aid is flowing in from around the world. It’s not surprising that Elisa Contemporary Art—already committed to supporting multiple charities—is joining the relief effort. Now, in light of the recent catastrophe in Nepal, the gallery will donate a portion of all sales from “A Trek Across Nepal,” plus 100% of the proceeds from Leblanc’s paintings Annoncion #1 (2008) and Annoncion #2 (2008) will go to AmeriCares and Charity: Water, two key organizations engaged in on-the-ground relief and rehabilitation for earthquake survivors.
It’s fitting that both artist and gallery are motivated to give back to Nepal: it’s a place that’s deeply inspired the works in the current show. Leblanc traveled to the Himalayan region in the fall of 2014. Home to eight of the fourteen highest summits in the world, it’s a wildly dramatic landscape—a place that the artist associates with peace, and also with the possibility of danger. It’s an intriguing paradox that comes across in several of the featured pieces: oil, pigment, and varnish on wood panels, each titled after a specific place.
Nepal, it seems, conjured up an unusual sensation in the artist—one of being untethered from reality, and at the same time, more connected to it. Leblanc wrote of her impressions while traveling, “I am in the Himalayan mountains there is no word strong enough to describe so much beauty….This morning, the view was stunning over the white cap snow mountains, pure joy to look at this scene….Here in the mountains, I lost track of the date, day and even the month, [for the] first time in my life.”
In promotion of “A Trek Across Nepal,” a show that originally was planned as a conventional gallery exhibition and suddenly became timely on the day of its opening, the gallery will hold a Special Relief Effort Reception and Fundraiser on Saturday, May 16th from 4–6pm.
“A Trek Across Nepal” is on view at Elisa Contemporary Art, Riverdale, Apr. 25–Jul. 13, 2015.