A reader asks about my early work, created in the Rocky Mountains, 1959

An interesting question just came our way from a reader of this blog, a woman originally from my homeland, the Netherlands. She lives in Alberta and asks about my experience of painting in the Rocky Mountains, summer of 1959 which I've written about elsewhere. 

Henri van Bentum painting at Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, 1959

This seminal trip to Banff in 1959 was made possible by my ear doctor, the late Dr. Wilfred S. Goodman. I've written elsewhere on this blog about Wilf, here is the link.  Wilf paid for my return train fare across Canada, from Toronto to  the Rockies, and onward to Victoria (in those days, via ferry from Vancouver). 

Wilf became a close friend and was my patron in the early days of my career. (Later, it was Ann Southam who became my patron when I evolved into abstract painting, I recently wrote a five-part essay in her honour.)  You can also read more about the 1959 experience here. 

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park,  Henri van Bentum, oil pastel, 1959

The woman who asked the question lives in Edmonton and asked if she could see any of the paintings at the Art Gallery of Alberta or other public galleries in the province.

Unfortunately, none of the paintings from that summer of 1959 – all created in either Banff, Jasper or Yoho National Parks, or in Canmore  -- are presently available to the public. They are held in a private collection.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Henri van Bentum, oil pastel,1959

However the Alberta Foundation for the Arts has one of my later works in its permanent collection, a watercolour from the “Spatial Rhythms” series, created in the early 1980's.]

All of the works from 1959 are in the private collection of Dr. Goodman’s family. Of course, now already 60 years have passed. 

Banff as seen from Tunnel Mountain, Henri van Bentum, oil 1959

The Goodman clan has grown and multiplied.  There are children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. My paintings are amongst them. Don’t know who has which ones. I hope they continue to like them.

Beaver Pond, Vermilion Lake, Banff National Park
Henri van Bentum, oil 1959
Artist's Private Collection

So our reader from Edmonton, who often travels to the national parks, asked if we could post some photos of these works so she can see them, which we’ve done on this update.

Three Sisters, Canmore, Henri van Bentum, oil pastel,1959

She is not alone, over the years many others have asked the same question.

Pilot Mountain, Massive Range, Henri van Bentum, oil on canvas board 1959

Ironically, it was in the Rocky Mountains with its stunning landscapes that my work evolved from representational to surrealist (and then abstraction). How this came about is another story, which we will publish in the near future. 

Lake Louise, Henri van Bentum, oil 1959

Most of the works shown here are done in oil, a few in oil pastel. All were done ‘en plein air’, like the Group of Seven.  

Takakkaw Falls, Banff National Park, Henri van Bentum,, oil on canvas board 1959

I rented a small room in a private home, the Parkin family. Having no car, I'd get up very early and hitchhike for a ride out of town, mostly with recreational trout fishermen. 

Early spring, Banff National Park, Henri van Bentum, oil on canvas board 1959

All these works were painted from mid-May through mid-July, at which time I became the first-ever guest student at the Banff School of Fine Arts.  How that totally unexpected event took place is chronicled elsewhere on this blog. 

Henri van Bentum, Lake Louise, 1959

We hope this post has been helpful to the reader.

p.s.  You'll notice some of the photos of the paintings posted here are not ideal, but they are the only ones we have available. We'd like to have better photos taken. The original paintings are located over 3,500 kilometres away in Ontario, spread amongst the extended family of Dr. Wilf Goodman.  

No comments: