Four Seasons Magazine

True North
The art collection at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto explores the role of nature in Canadian identity.
by Elaine Glusac

Candle Ice Two - moose antlers - 46x28x20in - 2012 - Shane Wilson

Candle Ice Two – moose antlers – 46x28x20in – 2012

When Toronto- and London-based art consultant James Robertson took on the task of curating the Four Seasons flagship, he says, Canadiana immediately came to mind as a unifying theme. “If you’re coming to Canada from abroad and staying in a downtown hotel, I felt you should get a sense of how incredible the nature is, but really as a minimalist nod,” he says. “It should be subtle and clever, evoking wilderness, but not in your face.”

Nature as a motif emerges in abstractions such as the luminous lake painted onto white gold by New York-based Paul Hunter or powerful trees done in tar by Alberta-born Attila Richard Lukacs. Sometimes the reference is more direct, as in the central installation of whole and partial dandelion seed heads dangling over the two-storey-high reception area like a statement piece of jewellery. “I think nature is a deep-seated element in the Canadian consciousness because so much of Canada is wilderness,” says Toronto artist Alissa Coe, creator of the centrepiece sculptures. “It’s part of our mythology. You can see it through all the works chosen. There’s a dreamlike, natural quality to them.”

Even the most representational pieces tap into the imagination. In the case of Candle Ice, British Columbia-based Shane Wilson carved two moose antlers in angular shards, patterned abstractly after the fragile fall and spring ice (candle ice) that forms, breaks apart and piles up. “It’s a living material,” says Wilson, who worked for 400 hours over nine months on the piece, using antlers he found in the Yukon. “I feel privileged to work with it, because it is created by life itself.”

Sculpture featured: Candle Ice Two

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