Carle Hessay
Canadian artist

Carle Hessay 1958 Home in the West

Carle Hessay 1958 Home in the West

Carle Hessay: Home in the West

Home in the West is one of Carle Hessay's earliest canvases, dating from the late 1950's, when romantic realism was a common mode of expression for him. It is designed in great wedges of colour and tonality, the darkened shadowy forms penetrating a gold-emblazoned ground. Except for the receding distance behind the horizontal band of dark pointed conifers, the impasto is heavy and rich, and the colour opulent. It has the iridescence of a painted window.

The evening sun floods the slopes of the background mountains with golden rays of burnished, metallic intensity, highlighting the fields of the foreground and middle distance. In opposition to this brilliant and theatrically-lit landscape are powerful silhouettes. Dominating the right foreground are trees of statuesque strength. On the left the gathered darkness of the valley's eastern ridge holds in its wing-like shelter a small settlement canopied beneath its trees and bordered by a quiet country road.

This canvas depicts a tiny community that is in harmony with its natural surroundings and that seems to embody an ideal of happiness. There is a feeling of "Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man."

The theme is a common one and reflects a universal archetype: the profound desire of the human heart to find rest and fulfilment. Even the most casual search of mythology and folklore will reveal many examples, from the Gaelic "Land o' the Leal," or "The Land of Tir nan Og," to the old popular song, "My Little Grey Home in the West," which expresses the dream that "when the golden sun sinks in the West, and the toil of the long day is o'er...I'll come back to contentment and rest."

(From Leonard A. Woods, Meditations on the Paintings of Carle Hessay, Treeline Press, 2005, page 3; see online book in the left menu of this website.)

(Dimensions: approx. 26 x 20 inches; 66 x 59 cm.; oil on canvas; 1958)