This is a partial reprint of an review of the WAR show that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen.
Canada’s last official war artist is the star of a new show that captures the changing nature of the art form
Grey-haired and bearded, the 79-year-old Zuber claims that title because he says he is the last person to hold a military rank and, simultaneously, to be deployed officially as an artist with Canadian troops in a wartime situation.
A resident of Seeley’s Bay, near Kingston, Zuber served as a parachutist with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment during the Korean War, 1950-53. Although there were no official war artists in that conflict, Zuber sketched battlefield scenes and later turned those rough drawings into oil paintings. In fact, he finished one just a few weeks ago. (More on that later.)
Both the old and new kinds of war art are on view at an exhibition, simply titled War, that opened Aug. 4 at Patrick John Mills Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, which is part of the ever expanding Wellington West art scene. The show includes more than 40 paintings and sculptures from more than a dozen artists.
Zuber is the undisputed star of the show. He has 10 paintings in the exhibition, dating back to his Korean days.
Another great catch for this gallery on the fringe is Ottawa’s Karen Bailey, who is represented by one painting showing a very pregnant Afghanistan veteran. Bailey spent time in Afghanistan with the military a few years ago.
Most of the remainder of the artists in the show are relative unknowns, except for Mathieu Laca, a Montreal-area artist infamous for his life-size, generously endowed, neon-coloured male nudes. (“He’s my best-selling artist,” says Mills.)
Among the emerging artists, be sure to check out Ottawa’s Bruce Stewart, whose paintings from the series called Road Walkers show soldiers trudging along misty paths to the unknown. These are some of the most powerful and haunting works in the exhibition.
Stewart started painting military-themed art a few years ago after becoming inspired while watching Afghanistan veteran Cpl. Mike Trauner run by his home on two artificial legs. Stewart is a regular at the Mills Gallery and can take credit for convincing Mills to organize the War show.