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TO SEPT. 16
To most Americans, the Canadian landscape means jutting mountains, thick evergreen forests, endless fields of wheat, and blinding layers of ice. The artists showing in “Group of Seven: A Contemporary Look at the Canadian Landscape” don’t ignore these popular visions, but they don’t hew to them slavishly, either. Consider Sylvie Fraser’s three side-by-side photographs of trees: No lush pines or firs here, only trees in urban settings, each tightly wrapped in burlap and looking at first blush like a homeless man bundled up against the cold. Or take Francis LeBouthillier’s Onion Skins, a video shown through a vintage coin-operated binocular viewer. To a (rather annoying) soundtrack of seagulls squawking, the artist unspools views of that quintessentially Canadian-American landmark, Niagara Falls, superimposing images of people cutting onions at a table, sometimes with closeups of their teary faces—a bizarre and enigmatic experience. Katharine Harvey offers underwater paintings with a supernaturally celestial glow, and Lois Andison produces a mixed-media work with seven adjacent photographic landscape views, each paired with a soothing band of closely linked color—a dreamy work that would have been more powerful had it been driven by a Duane Michals–style narrative thread. But the show’s standout is Lucie Duval, who photographs landscapes, then slices them up into cels, inserts each cel into a Mason jar, and reassembles the jarred images into matrix form (Série mettie en pot (Manic V) is pictured). A large work documents a mountain-ringed dam, but Duval’s smaller piece—of a forest in autumn—is winningly intimate. Presumably the artist is commenting on humanity’s tendency to commodify the landscape; one hopes she is also using irony to argue against keeping Canada’s landscape hermetically sealed. The show is on view from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, through Friday, Sept. 16, at the Embassy of Canada, 501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. (202) 682-1740. (Louis Jacobson)