Published on November 12, 2021

Canadian Artists Take European Modern Art: Milos Reindl vs. Lawren Harris Paintings

Throughout history, many Canadian artists have tried to capture the unique beauty of the Canadian wilderness from coast to coast. Canadian art galleries are brimming with aboriginal art from modern artists. One notable example of Canadian nature art is Emily Carr’s paintings that offer a uniquely modern vision of the British Columbia landscape. There is also the Group of Seven’s range of new representations of the Canadian landscape, particularly the North.

Canadian artist Lawren S. Harris was a leading landscape painter–and member of the Group of Seven–whose paintings evolved throughout his career to embrace different artistic movements. However, not all Canadian art is created by artists who are Canadian-born. Milos Reindl, a Czech-born political refugee, spent his 35 years in exile creating hundreds of oil paintings, gouaches and drawings depicting the beauty of Canadian landscapes.

While they have vastly different backgrounds and origins, the Lawren Harris paintings and Milos Reindl’s works share some striking similarities.

Harris came from a wealthy family and could therefore devote his entire life to his art. He spent the majority of his adult life living in Canada, eventually settling in Vancouver in the 1940s. His art was heavily influenced by a spiritual component; he was interested in theosophy, a mystical branch of religious philosophy that trickled into his craft. Over the course of his career, Harris’s painting evolved from Impressionist-influenced, decorative landscapes to stark images of the northern landscape to geometric abstractions. Many of his works are colourful and representative of the mainstream expressionist style of the 20th century.

Lawren S. Harris Greenland Mountains, c. 1930

Lawren Stewart Harris was a leading landscape painter, imbuing his paintings with a spiritual dimension.

When Reindl arrived in Canada in 1968, he needed to work. He worked for 30 years as a professor in the faculty of fine arts at a university in Quebec City and continued to paint and create alongside his career.

His style was not influenced by the mainstream artistic expression of his time, but was primarily a reflection of European modern art, based on the works of Matisse, Chagall, Picasso and Dubuffet. He also included tributes and references in his works to the earlier European history of painting with nods to Durer, Tintoretto, Goya, and Chardin. These ties to European Modern Art were evident, but he nonetheless had his own unique style, filled with masterful lined drawings, enfettered colours and contrasting shapes. His works often include seemingly random details and unique, flattened perspectives.

Milos Reindl painted hundreds of different «interiors» which can be said to be another very prolific theme of his artistic work.

While Harris’ works tend more toward realism, Reindl’s use of colours, figurative symbolism and lyrical Cubism make his Canadian artwork more abstract and influenced by graphic art and modernism. Riendl was known as much for his paintings as for his brilliant film posters.

12 Angry Men (USA, 1957) Film Poster, Milos Reindl

Best known for his large-scale paintings and brilliant film posters, Milos Reindl arrived in Canada in 1968 as a political refugee.

Both Milos Riendl and Lawren S. Harris contributed their vision to the landscape of Canadian nature art. You can find their works displayed in Canadian art galleries across the nation. We hope their unique artistic contributions to Canadian art have inspired you to dive deeper into Canadian aboriginal art and the world of other Northern artists, like Emily Carr’s paintings.

To find out more about Milos Riendl and his unique Canadian perspective, visit the Palbric Art Foundation website.