Terry Fenton

About the Artist

Terry Fenton is well-known internationally as an art critic, curator, author, photographer and landscape  painter. He was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1940 and studied art at Regina College from 1958 to 1960. He then studied English Literature at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon from 1960 to 1962.

Fenton was the Director of the Edmonton Art Gallery (now the Art Gallery of Alberta) from 1962 to 1988, the Director of the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from 1993 to 1997, and the President of the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance from 1997-2000.

Fenton has placed many of his artworks and writings, and more recently  documentaryAny artwork the purpose of which is to present facts objectively, without inserting fictional matter, recording and/or commenting on some content, often political or social, by accumulating factual detail. Many conceptual art installations of the 1970s were overtly documentary — e.g., Post-Partum Project by Mary Kelly (American), the various Reading Rooms by Joseph Kosuth (American, 1945-), Guggenheim Trustees by Hans Haacke (German, 1936-). More common examples: documentary films. Not to be confused with documentation. (Artlex.com)  photography, online. In his essay on the development of  landscapeA painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. There is invariably some sky in the scene. (Artlex.com) Landscape is also a term that may also refer simply to a horizontally-oriented rectangle, just as a vertically-oriented one may be said to be oriented the portrait way. (Artlex.com)   paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  Fenton notes that, “[i]t was only a matter of time before the illusionistic backgrounds of  oilSlow-drying paint made when pigments are mixed with an oil, linseed oil being most traditional. The oil dries with a hard film, and the brightness of the colours is protected. Oil paints are usually opaque and traditionally used on canvas. They can have a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. To look at examples of works in oil paints, see the articles under the names of every period from the Renaissance onward. (Artlex.com)  paintings took on a life of their own and became themselves the picture's subject. This came about gradually through the diminution of figures in relation to the whole. Such transitional paintings suggested that figures were harmonious parts of a natural whole. Eventually they could be abandoned altogether.” (Fenton, 1996)

Fenton goes on to trace the further development of landscape painting as better roads and the emergence of railways enabled artists to roam farther afield in search of landscape subjects. He notes in particular the work of the French Impressionists, whose influence can be seen in many of the landscapes on his website, http://www.sharecom.ca/fenton/.

In our own century, enabling developments have continued. In Canada, the Group of Seven took full advantage of an expanding national rail system to present a complex vision of an enormous new country. After World War II, the automobile, and the roads which accommodated it, provided greater access to landscape subjects, both distant and near. The automobile enabled city-based artists to travel quickly to and from rural areas. In recent years landscape painters have been able to travel widely and work virtually from portable studios. This portability has enabled them to work from nature on an increasingly large scale. (Fenton, 1996)

In recent years Fenton has used a  digitalA system of representing images or objects through numbers. These numbers can then be re-interpreted by another digital system to generate light and sound.   cameraIn photography, a tool for producing photographs, having a lightproof enclosure with an aperture and a shuttered lens through which the image of an object is focused and recorded on a photosensitive film or plate. In video, a device that receives the primary image on a light-sensitive cathode tube and transforms it into electrical impulses. (Artlex.com) Find out about 35-mm cameras at Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/135_film  to capture  documentaryAny artwork the purpose of which is to present facts objectively, without inserting fictional matter, recording and/or commenting on some content, often political or social, by accumulating factual detail. Many conceptual art installations of the 1970s were overtly documentary — e.g., Post-Partum Project by Mary Kelly (American), the various Reading Rooms by Joseph Kosuth (American, 1945-), Guggenheim Trustees by Hans Haacke (German, 1936-). More common examples: documentary films. Not to be confused with documentation. (Artlex.com)  images of houses and scenes in cities, including Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where he currently (2009) lives and works. These images, including some presented on his website, are very different from Fenton’s landscapes of the open prairie and the big sky. Instead, Fenton captures images of houses – mostly portions of houses – with his camera.  “Originally I used the camera as a sketching tool, a "digital sketchbook" to be used for my  oilSlow-drying paint made when pigments are mixed with an oil, linseed oil being most traditional. The oil dries with a hard film, and the brightness of the colours is protected. Oil paints are usually opaque and traditionally used on canvas. They can have a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. To look at examples of works in oil paints, see the articles under the names of every period from the Renaissance onward. (Artlex.com)  paintings.  However, I've since used it increasingly to record places that I wouldn't (and couldn't) paint: some images don't seem appropriate for painting. Put another way, photographs can do some things better. In my case, that has to do with recording human references, mostly in city subjects.” (Fenton, undated)

 


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning