“Imagination is my guide. I follow it and lead it into a world largely built on my drawings. It may be in response to a real-time visual phenomenon found in my travels, or to the close-up intrigue of a busy table in the studio or kitchen. Inspiration takes an unimpeded excursion through a mix of overlapping memories and images.”
– Ivan Kenneth Eyre, 1998
Ivan Eyre’s sculptures, paintings and drawings depict imagined and mythical subjects that are often metaphors for psychological states. His large body of work, created over five decades, includes panoramic landscapes, portraits and still lifes, often combined together in complex compositions, incorporating elements of Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism.
Born in rural Saskatchewan, Ivan Kenneth Eyre took an early interest in drawing and painting, studying under Ernest Lindner at 14 years of age and Eli Bornstein at 17. He obtained his BFA from the University of Manitoba in 1957 and returned there as Professor of Painting and Drawing from 1960 to 1993.
Eyre’s style is characterized by highly complex, often fragmented forms and a masterful drawing technique. His large, figureless landscape paintings, such as Touchwood Hills (1972–1973), depict rolling forested hills, viewed from above, with thin skylines. Although inspired by the landscapes of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, his images are works of the imagination.
Wrapped Head III (1978) is part of a large series of self-portraits showing Eyre’s head in bandages or masks. “I often fashion disguises to add graphic interest and intrigue to the topography of my head,” he once said. “The wrappings evoke landscape, space and geometry brought inside the figure.”
Other surrealist compositions feature recurring forms, such as foreshortened reclining nudes, silhouetted figures, horses, flying creatures, machines, Brutalist architecture and war imagery.
Eyre is represented in numerous public and private collections and has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and internationally, including at the National Gallery of Canada; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Frankfurter Kunstkabinett, Germany; Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris; and Canada House, London. Among his many honours, Eyre was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy Of Arts, and received the Queen’s Gold and Silver Jubilee medals, the Order of Manitoba, and an honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Manitoba.