Robert Genn – The Conventional Boy of Canadian Art

The Canadian outdoors are a source of inspiration to many painters whose expression of art depends heavily upon this old and harsh outback. Robert Genn belongs to that brand of artists who combine in them the elements of maverick vagabonds and spiritual seekers with those of the conventional ways of living and the execution of art.

Genn was born on May 15, 1936 in Victoria, B.C., Canada, to an English father and Scottish mother. He took the well-worn path to formal education in arts at the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and the Art Center School, Los Angeles, California (1959-61). Genn was lucky vis-à-vis his education as he was the disciple of one of the members of the famous “Group of Seven.” Customarily, Robert started with watercolors, slowly graduating to oils, and since 1974, got stuck on acrylic. In fact, most of Genn’s works utilize the acrylic medium although he has been an active print maker. Essentially, at the core of his being, Robert is a printmaker. His acrylic paintings mostly look like the well-patterned rendition of landscapes with very prominent flat patches of colors. Be it his ”Picnic Point to Philip Glass Lake of the Woods” or “Pattern in counter light,” the use of strong washes is characteristic of Genn’s personal language.

A strong pastel feel characterize Robert’s images with chalky colors dominating the canvas. The artist’s expertise lies in breaking down the scenery into discrete patterns without losing the feel and the touch of the original colors. The paintings Robert does on sites are best known as much for their spontaneity and vigor as for depicting the wonderful decomposition of individual monotones. He has almost an obsessive love for the Rockies Mountains and the West Coast. They usually make it to a typical Genn perspective. Robert’s choice of subjects is almost as simple as is his choice of colors. His subjects centre mostly on the Canadian landscapes and the theme & the content of the “Group of Seven” heavily influence them. This effect comes to Genn as one of the “Group of Seven” artists, Lawren Harris, trained him.

Genn is known as much for his paintings as for his personal collections of boats and vintage cars. He often holds one man shows in the cities of Canada. The artist has also written three books, “In Praise of Painting (1981),” “The Dreamway (1991),” and “The Painter’s Key (1999).” Married to Carol Shimozawa, an ex-air hostess, Genn has two sons and one daughter from the marriage. His personal life has been as steady and tranquil as the scenery he paints, free of any rude shocks that most creative people are subjected to. Robert is a painter whose lack of the adoption of explosive colors restrains his works from entering into the domain of the extraordinary. His scheme and theme do lack a certain variety that an artist of caliber should represent. Genn’s style even stops short of being unique. In an artistic evaluation of his work, Robert Genn could be rated as a good painter but the one somehow falling short in ways that distinguish good painters from awesome artists.