Although Manuel Cancel has been living predominately in Paris for over twenty years, the inspiration of the wind swept pampas that he rode across in his youth is still prevalent in his work. He returns regularly to his native South America in order to revisit the countryside of Uruguay, Argentina and, especially, the Patagonian highlands where he revels in the unspoiled landscapes that are subsequently recorded for posterity on his canvases.
Through his painstaking depiction of these prairie vistas, he shares with us his sense of awe at the wonders of nature, the great tranquillity and the pristine splendour that resonate for him in such open spaces. He often chooses to paint in an unusually elongated format, reminiscent of wide-angle lens photography, as if to demonstrate the endless expanse of his subject.
The artist employs a vibrant palette of green, gold and russet with which he meticulously renders expansive grasslands that swell and collapse like ocean waves. The landscapes are tangible yet dreamlike, revealing their roots in magic realism. Ethereal and haunting, they portray the drama and solitude of the human response to nature. By inflecting these scenes with a sense of melancholy and yearning, the painter has made them both memorable and familiar.
Trees are everywhere and depicted by the artist as individual personalities in the landscape. These are long lost friends that he revisits on occasion, and under whose branches and amongst whose shadows he can rest to enjoy tranquillity, comfort and peace.
Manuel Cancel is clearly an artist who lives in harmony with nature and it is, therefore, particularly appropriate that Landau Contemporary presents this exhibition in Canada where the open landscape is an equally important dimension in the everyday lives of Canadians.