In 1940 Lawren Harris moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico, back to Canada, settling in Vancouver. Although his use of colour remains symbolic, "Abstract Painting No. 20" marks a shift away from the more rigidly geometrical compositions of the late 1930s. While the central white vertical bar and arching, semi-circular line recall the composition of "Abstraction" (1939), Harris re-introduces more fluid, irregular lines in the background elements. These foreshadow the natural forms seen in "Nature Rhythms", painted ten years later, in 1950. The inward angling of the three dark forms at the bottom of the work suggests movement backwards into receding space, which is emphasized by the strong vertical lines that rise up and bracket each side.