Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Thomas Nozkowski

Ottawa (Ontario) - June 25, 2009

Discover the work of
one of the greatest abstract painters of his time

At the National Gallery of Canada until September 20, 2009

The most important retrospective exhibition ever devoted to New York artist Thomas Nozkowski recently opened at the National Gallery of Canada. Until September 20, some 60 works painted since 1980 by the internationally renowned artist will be on view in the Gallery’s Contemporary Art galleries. Although Nozkowski’s art career spans four decades, this is his first exhibition in Canada. One of the greatest and most influential artists of his generation, he has made a significant contribution to the field of abstract painting.

Thomas Nozkowski is the first exhibition organized at the National Gallery of Canada by the Gallery’s new director, Marc Mayer, since he arrived in January 2009. “He is daring, pushes his work to the limit, and reinvents himself in each painting. He is a true revolutionary,” Mayer commented.

Nozkowski’s work is distinct from that of his contemporaries in a number of ways, including the small size of his canvases – most measure 40.6 × 50.8 cm; and the diversity of his subjects – each painting is created in a unique style, and repetition from one image to another is avoided, although his format remains constant – small and horizontal. "Nozkowski’s imagination appears encyclopaedic," said Marc Mayer. "His pictures are eloquent and articulate, full of humour and pathos and close observation of things half remembered or entirely imagined."

Nozkowski openly states that the forms in his abstract paintings are derived from things or impressions in his daily life and experience. However, he refuses to reveal their sources so that he doesn’t influence those who contemplate his works. By the same token, none of his paintings have a title. Each of his works is coded with a number, leaving viewers free to formulate their own interpretation.

The artist’s works offer abstract forms in highly diversified colour palettes that evoke, among other things, movement and change. As well, Nozkowski has developed a wide variety of organic and geometric forms. The result is paintings that transgress historical conventions of abstraction, which keep it alive and relevant in the 21st century. In fact, according to Nozkowski, abstraction needed to become homely in order to survive, and his painting has evolved from that premise. With him, abstraction becomes an endless adventure in structure, texture, tone, and mood.

Meet the curator, Marc Mayer
The director of the National Gallery of Canada and curator of the exhibition Thomas Nozkowski will talk about the exhibition on Friday, 26 June, at 12:15 pm in English and at 2 pm in French. Included with Gallery admission.

A bilingual catalogue accompanies the exhibition Thomas Nozkowski. Co-written by Marc Mayer, director of the NGC and curator of the exhibition, and Robert Storr, dean of the Yale University School of Art (New Haven, Connecticut), the 184-page book includes 70 colour illustrations. Hardcover. On sale at the NGC Bookstore for $60 (plus taxes) and at www.ShopNGC.ca, the Gallery’s online boutique.
To find out more about the artist and the exhibition, visit www.gallery.ca/nozkowski.

The National Gallery of Canada extends special thanks to its partners
The National Gallery of Canada acknowledges the generous support of the Embassy of the United States of America, as well as its media partners, la Télévision de Radio-Canada, CBC Television, The Ottawa Citizen and Le Droit.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art in the world. In addition, it has pre-eminent collections of Indigenous, Western and European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, American and Asian Art as well as drawings and photography. Created in 1880, it is among the oldest of Canada’s national, cultural institutions. As part of its mandate to make Canadian art accessible across the country, the NGC has one of the largest touring exhibition programs in the world.

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For more information, please contact:

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada

Claire Schofield
Manager, Communications and Public Relations
National Gallery of Canada