Celebrated Borenstein Landscape Offered for Sale

Prévost, Québec featured in Academy Award Nominated film

by Joyce Borenstein
Special Contributor

SAM BORENSTEIN (1908-1969)
“Prévost, Québec”, 1960
Oil on canvas 34″ x 42 1/4″

Provenance: Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal; Private Collection, Toronto.
Illustrated: This painting appears in the film Colours of My Father: A Portrait of Sam Borenstein (Joyce Borenstein, 1992. Academy Award Nomination for Best Short Documentary; 12th Genie Awards Best Short Documentary).

Prévost, Québec, 1960 is a scene that Sam Borenstein returned to many times to paint. There are several winter versions of this panorama. This one is obviously done at the height of autumn.

Note how Borenstein is a master at conveying wind. He successfully discovered how to create the illusion of movement in the still image. It is a paradox – to express movement in a still image and he succeeds beautifully. The clouds in the sky look like cresting ocean waves.  The leaves and tree branches are quivering and fluttering. He discovered that by applying the paint with zigzag motions of his brush, he could capture and express movement, and it would be frozen forever on the canvas.  The squiggles of red, black, white, and blue paint animate the canvas.

In terms of the composition there is movement here as well. Borenstein leads the viewers’ eyes through the canvas in sweeping diagonals, and this helps to convey the breathtaking expanse of the scene.  If you follow the red areas, beginning in the left foreground, your eyes are led upward and to the right towards the birch tree, and then ricocheted back towards the farm houses over to the left of the canvas, and then up and over towards the right through the red of the distant mountains.  Finally, the sky draws the eyes back towards the left again and here the loop starts over.

Borenstein’s use of colour is bold, applied, at times, straight from the tube onto the canvas. His brush and palette knife work is equally daring. His paintings look improvised and spontaneous, and yet there is an underlying structural and compositional organization that creates a unity. The echoing of colours helps to reinforce the unity. The red of the autumn leaves is echoed in the sky, upper left corner, suggesting the sun behind clouds, just as the blue and white sky is repeated in the foreground, lower right corner, suggesting fence and rocks.

In summary, Prévost Québec is a powerful celebratory ode to nature.

Copyright © Joyce Borenstein and Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, 2011

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