The Art of Bert Weir by Lisa Daniels
Titanium White Editions, 2010 96 pp,
Excerpt starting Page 81
The connection to the landscape and the environment is a common thread in Canadian art that laces together artists of diverse styles, origins, interests and time periods. The problem in categorizing Bert Weir as a symbol for the many regional artists who retreat to the north to escape the mainstreams of contemporary art practice is clear. Situated somewhere between the national landscape aesthetic created by the Group of Seven and the individualized abstract aesthetic put forward by the Painters Eleven, Weir has remained true to his own artistic path and his desire to reconcile himself with nature and art.
For Weir, choosing a life in northern Ontario was not about retreat, it was about choice. Living life on his own terms, fully immersed in the beauty and isolation that northern Ontario offers, Weir sought out and embraced the contemporary urban art scent. Throughout most of his artistic career, he was simultaneously grounded in geographical place and in the contemporary artist trends in Ontario. As such, within the discourse of regional art practicer in Canada, Weir occupies a transition point somewhere between the historical stereotyped regional artist who works in a more traditional, landscape mode and the contemporary regional artist who explores modern life and current artistic themes within their geographic locations. Rather than producing a romanticized response to the environment (as is often seen in the work of the urban artist on vacation) the work of
Weir reflects both a sense of pride in living the day-to-day struggles in one of Canada’s harshest and most beautiful environments, and a sense of faith that within this environment a universal experience can be discovered and articulated through art.
Informed by both a rural and an urban aesthetic and rooted in a response to physical location, the life and work of Bert Weir involved an intimate relationship between the natural and the spiritual worlds. His gift lies in his ability to progressively portray what is invisible in nature and bring those feelings and experiences into a visual conscious awareness. Weir generously and passionately offers a personal, visual response to his deep understanding of the complexities found within the natural environment. Portraying this world as rich, varied and chaotic, Weir’s body of work can be read as a dynamic self portrait: the portrait of a man, father, husband, teacher and artist, relentless in his determination to find his place and his relationship to the material and the spiritual worlds, determined that the path to discovering this place was through the integration of life and art. In his life and through his are one senses the presence of something of the universal rhythms that flow through every manifestation of nature.