Susan Strachan Johnson – EQUIMANITY Exhibition

For the last three years, Susan Strachan Johnson and I put on many miles to bring this show to fruition. But bring it together, we did. Finally!

In 2017, I attended a Jurors’ talk at the local “Insights” show in Fergus Ontario. Susan had exhibited at first glance, what appeared to be a “copy” of Alex Colville’s very famous painting, Black Horse in the Churchyard. Susan’s rendition caused quite a stir. But as the juror aptly pointed out, Susan’s edition was not quite a copy because she had in fact painted the horse much more lifelike reflecting her in-depth knowledge of horse anatomy. This still caused quite a stir among the audience made up of artists and art lovers. It was from this point forward that Susan and I ended up trekking far and wide, visiting various faculty members at the Ontario Veterinary College, the Fine Art Department at the University of Guelph and traveling to Halifax to have a personal chat with the daughter (Ann Kitz) of one of Canada’s most famous painters. Susan was keen to present her academic thesis that Alex Colville did understand horse anatomy very well. Why then, did he paint Black Horse in A Churchyard in such a “magic realism” fashion? As Susan’s curiosity mounted so did mine. She decided to take on very famous painter, George Stubbs and his painting of Whistlejacket and the sketches of Leonardo di Vinci to determine why each of these artists painted horses as they did. This show, which finally was mounted at the Wellington County Museum &
Archives in Fergus, Ontario this July, brings to fruition many months of Susan’s labour with painstaking precision as an artist tackling a very controversial topic. She chose three rock stars in the artwork, George Stubbs and Whistlejacket and Eclipse, the horse drawings of Leonardo di Vinci and of course several horse paintings by Alex Colville. The central thrust of this exhibition is that all three of these famous artists did not paint horses correctly in spite of their very detailed knowledge of horse anatomy. You have see the exhibition to uncover Why!

This exhibition is not just for horse lovers. It is a show for a wider audience to dive into the fascinating position held by this local artist as she presents an extremely controversial point of view. Brilliantly well-done Susan!