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Watercolours: Toni Onley

Watercolours: Toni Onley

Winchester Galleries announces a very special exhibition of work by British Columbia painter Toni Onley at The Union Club of British Columbia, Victoria, BC. 

A multi-awarded Canadian art legend and recipient of the Order of Canada, Toni Onley is best known for his watercolour landscapes of Canada’s West Coast.  Born on the Isle of Man, he was influenced by traditional English landscape painters, particularly J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) and Archibald Knox (1864-1933). He emigrated to Canada in 1948, studying first at the Doon School of Fine Art in Ontario.

After Onley came back to Vancouver from London in 1965, he gradually returned to landscape painting.  By the early 1970s, it became his sole obsession.  This new work produced as watercolours, oils, lithographs, and etchings was highly abstract at first, but as his landscapes evolved over the years, they were to become increasingly figurative while simultaneously retaining impressionistic and abstract qualities. In 1978, the Vancouver Art Gallery held a huge retrospective of his work, comprising both his purely abstract works of the 1960s and his new evolving landscape works. By 1981, with the publication of Toni Onley: A Silent Thunder, Onley’s landscapes had gained him a new reputation as one of Canada’s leading landscape artists the reputation by which he is best known today.

Onley’s consistent use of a degree of abstraction in his landscapes gives them a timeless quality, one of the defining features of his art.  Onley once explained how “It’s the timeless things that I’m looking for, it’s the things that don’t date.  The things that are there now and have always been there, this is what feeds my art.” (Landscape Revealed, 2004).