Malak's Canada

Reviewed: January 22, 2003
By: Photographs by Malak Karsh
Publisher: Key Porter Books
128 Pages, $39.95

Say the name "Karsh" and what comes to mind is the name Yousuf, the internationally renowned portrait photographer, with an image of that famous shot of Winston Churchill not far behind. That would be, I guessed when I opened the book, why Malak chose not to use his last name professionally. There would have been too many expectations. Knowlton Nash's introduction told me I was correct in that.

I was not familiar with that name, though the list of publications in which his landscape work appeared during a career that spanned over 50 years guarantees that I must have seen his work many times, if only on one of the old $1 bills, for which he provided a shot of the Parliament Buildings. This book celebrates his work right across the country, beginning at the west and moving to the east, just for the sake of variety.

There are shots of buildings and towns in this collection, but his primary interest seems to have been in landscape. When he shot Dawson City he caught the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, but the town itself is obscured by shadow-blackened trees along the Dome's hillside and a wisp of low lying cloud.

Malak's Canada is a tremendous collection of material, a fitting memorial for an immigrant who once said, "I live and breathe Canadian."