The National Gallery of Canada presents a Commemorative Installation on the Work of Artist Jean McEwen
Ottawa, Canada - February 1, 1999
The National Gallery of Canada is presenting a special commemorative installation of works in hommage to Canadian artist Jean McEwen, who passed away on 9 January. A selection of six paintings dating from 1947 to 1998 will be on view in the Canadian Galleries beginning Wednesday 3 February 1999. The installation draws works from the Gallery's permanent collection, and features the painting Arabesques, 1947-1948, one of McEwen's first abstract works as well as Poème barbare no 30, 1998, a work currently on loan.
Jean McEwen was born in Montreal in 1923. Although he pursued a career in pharmacology, McEwen had always been interested in the arts, and wrote poetry while still in his teens which was later published. Influenced by a movie on the life of French painter Paul Gauguin, he began painting in the mid-forties while completing his pharmacy degree. The acceptance of a still-life painting submitted to the annual spring exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts encouraged McEwen to pursue serious studies in art.
Exposure to the painting styles and ideas of American artist Sam Francis and fellow Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle greatly influenced McEwen during his studies in Paris in the early 1950s. Subsequently McEwen began developing large, deeply saturated colour works for which he became recognized. In the 1960s, this recognition spread to New York, where exhibitions of his work launched a successful career in the United States and Europe. Today, Jean McEwen's work is in the collections of major museums across Canada as well as The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In December 1998, Jean McEwen was awarded the $30,000 Prix Paul-Émile Borduas by the government of Quebec, in recognition of his outstanding artistic contribution.
"Canada and the world have lost an innovative and influential figure of modern art," commented Pierre Théberge, Director, National Gallery of Canada." From his first experimentations with abstract painting in the 1940s through to his active artistic production in the 1990s, Jean McEwen leaves an important body of work that forever secures his place in the pantheon of modern artists."
Admission to the exhibition as well as to the permanent collection is free, every day.
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