THOMAS DE VANY FORRESTALL, A.R.C.A.
THE SECRET PLACE
egg tempera on board
signed, titled and dated 1981 on the reverse
31 ins x 29 ins; 78.7 cms x 73.7 cms
Thomas Forrestall (b.1936) has been described as an artist who “paints the Maritime soul”. His love and talent for the arts was fostered by creative parents from a young age. By 1954 Forrestall was enrolled in the fine arts programme at Mount Allison University where he was taught by Lawren P. Harris and Alex Colville.
A successful watercolourist, he was introduced to the medium of egg tempera while at university and by 1968 this was his chosen medium and one that can be exceptionally demanding. The underdrawing and a clear understanding of how colours interact provide the critical backbone upon which small, careful and controlled brushstrokes are applied to create the finished work. Forrestall became so skilled in tempera that his work is often compared to photorealism, an association he disliked, however, as he attempted to evoke a feeling and mood beyond realist objectivity.
An excerpt from a letter from the artist to the owner, dated 27 November 1989:
“The Secret Place is indeed a real place, near Hampton on the Bay of Fundy, near where I was born and grew up in Annapolis Valley...
The painting has long been a favourite of mine and my wife Natalie. It has been in many exhibitions over the years from Israel to Florida and even Transylvania (sic).!!
There are several sketches, watercolour and studies for the work. One still has the fold mark down the middle when I took it to Milan to do 2 colour lithography of the “Secret Place”…
The dynamics of a shape that a painting takes is very, very important for me. It is part of the creative whole and very much contributes to its idea and “Life of its own”.
I wish I could convince a major public gallery to go into this whole area of the shaped carrier for painting. The rectangle is just another shape but to use it for all painting is a mindless convention. Canada could lead the art world in a whole art movement if support for this idea was given by a major public gallery such as the Art Gallery of Ontario. I’ve made a study of the shaped panting for over twenty-five years and have a great deal of writing on the subject.
(This lot) is a perfect example of the idea of and the shape working together… This painting took about a month to do. It is hard to pinpoint time as I leave works for a “rest” period and go on with another painting sometimes having 3 or 4 on the go…”
Tom Smart, Tom Forrestall: Paintings, Drawings, Writings, Key Porter Books, Toronto, 2008, page 21, 56, 69.
Glendon Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Canadian Cultural Centre, Rome, 1983 and Habemi Centre Gallery, Tel Aviv, 1984.