Galerie D'Este proudly presents a solo exhibition by Toronto painter Peter Harris entitled Conversations with Hopper. In this body of work, the artist uses the urban setting as the subject of his paintings and as a starting point to explore the meaning of landscape painting to a contemporary audience. His compositions depict buildings, streets, parking lots, and restaurants of the city and examines his own relationship to these structures. Interested in architectural subjects, he explores landscape painting in an age of urbanity, now combined with references to iconic landscape paintings of the past. These often well-known art works are painted as if hanging in the interior spaces of the architecture, framed by the windows of the buildings. These small, accurate depictions of real paintings function as symbols of past ideas of a landscape. Combining these two differing takes on landscape painting - one defined by architecture, the other, nature - generates a conversation between Harris and artists of the past, exchanging ideas about how the landscape, landscape painting, and attitudes toward it, have evolved.
While developing a modern take on landscape painting, it is hard to ignore Edward Hopper whose reputation for a unique urban vision looms larger than anyone else’s. His paintings are often invoked by viewers when looking at Harris' work; his is the name on the tip of the tongue when people try to articulate the emotional resonance they feel in his work; he is the artist to whom all others working within the genre are judged against. In many of the paintings in this exhibition, Harris acknowledges his predecessor’s work by including paintings from Hopper’s own oeuvre to contrast his own. While working to recreate his paintings in miniature, it became a meditation on his work. With this ongoing “conversation” with Hopper, Harris is helping to give historical context for interpreting his own version of the contemporary landscape, and continues to question the ability of landscape painting to present fresh ideas to a contemporary audience.