By Katie Bond Pretti

This is Nathan Eugene Carson’s wish for his viewers and the sentiment behind his upcoming exhibition at Oswald Gallery. Opening Friday, August 11, Carson’s first exhibition in Hamilton challenges the heart as much as the eye as he presents a body of work years in the making on walls painted black instead of white.  

Bombastic colour palettes and loosely rendered forms delineate Carson’s style. His drawn and painted works on paper are populated with richly pigmented figures and animals, often presented in fields of black. Inspired by the city growing and transforming around him, Carson translates personal observation into visual sensation. 

A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, but veteran Hamiltonian, Carson speaks to his experience of the changing face of the city he calls home as he considers the faces and experiences of those around him. A city engrossed in rapid expansion offers much in the way of inspiration. One only has to take the time to look. 

This is what Carson does for the viewer. And then he paints what he sees as well as what he feels.  

“Hamilton, for me, is a city full of new beginnings and clean, fresh starts.” Carson speaks fondly of his return to Hamilton after spending years abroad. He is one of the many artists to recently relocate to or reconsider this Toronto neighbour as a cultural hub in the making.  

May You Always See the Light encourages the viewer to scratch away at the surface, to see more than the immediate, to appreciate the layers of personal history that constitute a place and a person’s experience of it.  

If a city could wear a mask Carson’s work would seek to reveal what’s beneath. His concepts surround perception and truth; his process involves dipping into his own core to painstakingly churn out a body of work that suggests honesty before all else. Encompassing passion and peace, confusion and clarity, Carson’s newest body of work finds a balance through these lived experiences. 

Sometimes life escapes us. As we concentrate on urban existence, focus on our portable screens, and alienate ourselves from the natural world, Carson urges that we also recognize and respect our roots, the ancestors and animals, the land and the sky.  

Nathan Eugene Carson’s May You Always See the Light runs from August 11th – September 3rd, at Oswald Gallery 328 James Street North. The opening reception (7-9pm on August 11), will be a shared sensory experience of visual art, a live musical performance by Loop Electro artist Seamus Hamilton, and sumptuous snacks provided by Mezcal TNT. Plus, carefully crafted garments and zines exclusive to the event will fill the merchandise table making elements of the work accessible to any budget.  

All are welcome to attend, meet the artist, experience a sensational journey, and be inspired to seek the essence of our own beginnings as insight into our futures.