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Commemorating the First World War centennial with tough images

You'll find little of "the violence and savagery of the battlefield" in the 16 or so new acrylic-and-pastel canvases by Charles Pachter that make up Lest We Forget, now on display in the Lieutenant-Governor's Suite at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto. There are some tough images in this exhibition commemorating the centennial of the start of the First World War (a soldier taking to his bed with PTSD, survivors of a poison-gas attack). But Pachter's foray into what he calls "reductionist symbolism" is concerned more with metaphor, with "transferring suffering into something powerful, poetic, metaphysical" and even whimsical (such as the punny painting of a nurse with a tank atop her head instead of the traditional cap). Pachter, 71, got the commission from Lieutenant-Governor David Onley in 2012. Visitors also will receive, gratis, a 59-page paperback book containing reproductions of Pachter's paintings, plus 12 ruminations on "what have we learned from war?" by Jean Chrétien, Jack Granatstein, Kim Phuc Phan Thi, Joseph Boyden and others. The public can take in the exhibition when the Lieutenant-Governor's Suite is not being used for official events. Details on visiting at

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James More


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