The power and paradox of Pachter’s art is the way you sense a national character simply by standing in front of his work. In his iconoclastic visual metaphors I find myself luxuriating in their beauty and sensuality. I find new connections in their strange, jarring juxtapositions. Pachter’s creative impulse extends from finding, in the cultural heritage of his country, evidence of the fundamental stories that make us human: myths. For Pachter, life has an operatic dimension. He has devoted his considerable skills to rocking his audiences with grand gesture, profound feeling, sensual overload, and glorious, splendid expressions of being human…”
Tom Smart, Saint John Telegraph Journal
“THE ARTIST WHO CREATED CANADA’S MODERN MYTHOLOGY: Renowned for his iconic renderings of the Canadian flag, the Queen astride a moose and cultural icons from Margaret Atwood to Pierre Trudeau, painter and printmaker Charles Pachter has himself become an icon of this country’s art scene. Over his 50-year career, his boldly graphic works and uncloying patriotism have presented a cheeky yet defining vision of Canada and its culture unlike any other.”
Betty Ann Jordan
“With continuing grand gestures Pachter has staked out cultural territory of his own and celebrated it unabashedly… He is a serious minded humorist who possesses the gift to be roguish and poignant at once.”
“Pachter’s works address larger concerns that speak to a wider audience than perhaps any other artist in Canada.”
Christopher Hume, Toronto Star
“Ironical work that is both serious and self-parodying. Pachter works hard, even at the trivial. The paintings are beautiful in one way or another, like joke panels that take your breath away. These witty, occasionally dry images are more than urban jokes; they have emotional staying power. Pachter invades Pop culture with surreal wit. He sometimes paints as an insider to culture and at others like a true outcast. His work escapes a tendency towards intellectualism through the sheer power of talent and love of image.”
David MacLean, Vancouver Sun
“on se sent en présence d’un homme intelligent, cultivé et sensible qui nous fait découvrir des mondes insoupçonnés à portée de la main.
Pierre Karch, L’Express de Toronto
“Charlie’s canvases are windows into the soul of Canada”
Marc Côté, Cormorant Books
THE JOURNALS OF SUSANNA MOODIE
by Margaret Atwood and Charles Pachter
“This is truly the most magnificent book ever to be produced in Canada, a benchmark in the history of Canadian printing. It is immensely gratifying to find how Pachter’s graphics so extend, expand and explore the inner meaning of Atwood’s text.”
Special collections Librarian
University of Western Ontario
” …What is so astonishing is that Pachter’s illustrations complement the poems yet exist at the same time as separate and powerful works of art. There is an unusual dependence and simultaneous independence, similar to the best of the medieval illuminations which use the text as a springboard for creativity.”
Dean of Arts
University of Ottawa
“Atwood speaks in a powerful modern voice. Pachter’s uncompromisingly strong yet sensitive imagery hovers properly between his vision of what Atwood is saying and what the words say on the page.This book is a magnificent example of its kind, to be savored at once and in successive stages.”
Art News, New York
“…The poetry is moving, readable, engaging, and beautifully printed with Pachter’s powerful, expressionistic and highly original images. This is a wonderful complement of poetry and visual art and Susanna Moodie’s story is not lost in this burst of virtuosity.”
“…Pachter’s collaboration with Atwood represents a Canadian “moment of being” similar to that signalled by Ambroise Vollard’s art book publications in Paris more than 50 years ago. When Pachter draws upon his understanding of human personality and his instinct for the historical and the narrative, he truly comes into his own. It is for this reason that The Journals of Susanna Moodie has provided such an auspicious outlet for Pachter’s gifts and will remain one of his most successful creations. “
“…The cross-fertilization of poetry and the visual arts has been the springboard for a lot of good writing over the centuries. …Pachter’s silkscreen prints, almost Jungian in their elemental power, complement Atwood’s work perfectly, not simply illustrating images from the poems, but finding visual correlatives for their desolate majesty… “The Journals of Susanna Moodie” is a haunting piece of work, enhanced terrifically by Pachter’s visual riffing off Atwood’s words. It is a synergistic masterpiece. “
Da Brewst, Amazon. com 1997
L’artiste torontois Charles Pachter: nouvel officier de l’Ordre du Canada
January 11 2012, par Raphael Lopoukhine
Charles Pachter vient d’être promu officier de l’Ordre du Canada. Il s’agit du plus haut rang d’un ordre qui a été institué le 17 avril 1967 par la reine Elizabeth II, sur les conseils du premier ministre Lester B. Pearson. Il a été créé pour reconnaître les actions exemplaires et les services rendus au Canada, par des Canadiens. Le gouverneur général Roland Michener a été le premier à y être reçu, puis, 90 personnes se sont jointes à lui six jours plus tard, soit le 7 juillet 1967.
A part ceux qui n’ont jamais pris le métro, tous les Torontois connaissent Charles Pachter ou ses oeuvres. En effet, il est l’auteur des célèbres fresques de la station College, qui voient se faire face les Maple Leafs de Toronto et les Canadiens de Montréal. Les deux équipes rivales sont représentées en action, chacune sur son quai, comme si elles défendaient leur territoire. Les fresques, appelées Hockey Night in Canada, ont été peintes en 1984, alors que les Maple Leafs jouaient au Maple Leaf Garden, situé à proximité de la station de métro.
La promotion de Charles Pachter est un clin d’oeil assez drôle, car outre la fresque du métro, l’artiste est connu pour ses représentations nombreuses, irrévérencieuses et créatives de la reine Elizabeth, ainsi que d’autres membres de la famille royale britannique. Ces personnages royaux sont presque toujours accompagnés d’un vigoureux orignal tout droit sorti du parc Algonquin. L’orignal est d’ailleurs un élément central et récurrent de l’oeuvre du peintre, né àToronto en 1942. On peut en voir dans de nombreux tableaux, et dans autant de situations. Par exemple, dans On the Road Again (2008), c’est l’orignal qui conduit, et le chasseur qui est attaché sur le capot de la voiture.
Charles Pachter, qui parle français couramment, est trè attaché à sa ville natale, oû il habite et travaille. Il empreinte parfois des symboles de Toronto, comme la tour CN, représentée sous un orignal qui se promène sur un fil, en suspension, tranquille. (Tour de Force II-1987).
L’art est décidément à l’honneur, en ce début d’année, puisque dans le même temps, David Hockney, dont l’exposition Fresh Flowers vient de se terminer au ROM, a étédécoré par la reine de l’Ordre du Mérite. Une distinction suprème, dont seules 30 personnes sont honorées (Jean Chrétien en est le seul récipiendaire canadien). Contrairement à Charles Pachter, David Hockney a toujours refuséde peindre la reine ou sa famille. Charles Pachter a préféré explorer l’imaginaire canadien, avec ses drapeaux, ses orignaux et sa reine. Deux conceptions du rôle de l’art, et deux récompenses pour deux artistes contemporains majeurs.
CANADA DAY July 1 2012
Curator Tom Smart column in St John Telegraph Journal
Moose Factory sits squashed between two houses in a tiny urban enclave a block from the Art Gallery of Ontario. Its cantilevered second ﬂoor gallery juts out into the shady avenue like a chin.
The odd modern incarnation of the building, whose history includes spells as
a Chinese food warehouse and a turn-of-the-century funeral parlour, is the home and studio of Charles Pachter, the indomitable, gifted Canadian artist and self-styled national icon.
On this Canada Day weekend, my mind turns to Charlie’s work and life. It seems that the past months have been quintessentially Pachteresque. An unashamed royalist, he is best known for his affectionate portraits of the Queen.
The most well known are the funny, notorious paintings of the Queen sitting astride a moose. They created a stir when ﬁrst exhibited more than four decades ago, yet the anachronistic images have endured.
Charlie’s depictions of the Queen are etched in some deep part of my brain and are part of the way l see the world and my country. They are the signs and symbols that form the strange mosaic of my identity as a Canadian. I suspect this is true for many others who embrace Pachter’s art because it does tap into a deep vein of nationalism.
Many times during the ceremonies marking the recent Jubilee, I found myself in one of Charlie’s worlds. In those moments, I came to appreciate this gregarious, talented man’s art. In the painted passages, a profoundly rich, poetic, visual mind is exposed for the curious and imaginative viewer to enter and explore.
In my many visits to Moose Factory, I was always escorted on a tour of the studio and was introduced to the iconography of his imagination. Well trained as a painter and printmaker at Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art, Pachter brought a unique frame of reference, spanning two countries, to his practice. It also flew in the face of the tremendous force of abstraction and minimalism that held sway in Toronto’s art world when he was starting out in the late 1960s. He dropped into the gallery scene at a time when imagery was being stripped from canvases, and replaced with spare, colour-saturated surfaces and self-referential meaning. Pachter was, and remains, a bold imagist, a poetic painter proudly describing a rich orchestration of ﬁgures.
Through radical juxtaposition and his literate and visual sensibilities, Pachter
adapted an expressive strategy analogous to what our best poets and novelists were doing. Like many ofthem, Pachter was a mythologist. His creative impulse extends from ﬁnding, in the cultural heritage of his country, evidence of the fundamental stories that make us human: myths. For Pachter, life has an operatic dimension. He has devoted his considerable skills to rocking his audience with grand gesture, profound feeling, sensual overload and glorious, splendid expressions of being human.
Importantly, Pachter is essentially a nationalist, and this quality renders him
one of our most compelling citizens. In his iconoclastic visual metaphors, I ﬁnd myself luxuriating in their beauty and sensuality. I ﬁnd new connections in their strange, jarring juxtapositions, and intently probing the nuances of his visual acumen, raging against his irreverence and nodding my head at the fundamental truths he reveals about how I see the world and people around me in the roiling odd home we call Canada.
The power and paradox of Pachter’s art is the way you sense a national character simply by standing in front of his work. Against all efforts to challenge and confront it, a stealthy ghost animates the surfaces of his paintings and prints, as if conjured up in the stuff of their making, but emanating like ectoplasm. It is a spectre as old as the land I am standing on, or the factory l am in—a true expression of who I am as a Canadian.
On a recent dismal winter’s evening, I found myself in the bowels of Moose Factory listening to ragtime and belting out anthems in an impromptu chorus of passersby and neighbours. Surrounded by the raucous din, I lifted my eyes and looked around the rooms and studios. There, above me, were Pachter’s representations and emblems of the elemental characters and places that made me who l was, at that very moment, in this place I call home.
Tom Smart is a writer and curator living in Toronto, Ont. He can be reached at email@example.com