The Canadian Art Database

Jane Urquhart

Jean McEwen
Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto, March 3-28 [1979]

artscanada #226 / 227, May / June 1979.
[ 311 words ]

It is interesting to watch the evolution of an artist within the visual format he has provided for himself. Jean McEwen's paintings, during the last two decades, have been executed in the form of a contained triptych. The central area of this triptych was most often dominant, either as a result of size or colour intensity, but each area expressed itself as a separate unit. The units were amalgamated by means of a careful and continuous working of the surface texture.

The triptych is still identifiable in McEwen's recent Suite Parisienne, as is his expert working of the surface. But both of these elements have dropped in intensity in favor of a lyrical colour scheme and a sensitive impressionistic treatment of the picture plane. This is not to say that McEwen has lost the vital colour of his earlier work or that structure is missing from the painting. It is merely a question of subtlety. Geometric structure has been replaced by more organic form combined with an atmospheric transparency. The colour leans toward the pastoral.

Landscape appears to be asserting itself in McEwen's work. The Suite Parisienne was completed as a result of a recent sojourn in Paris, France. There is more than a hint of the French Impressionists in these paintings, but, and perhaps more important, there is the feeling of the French landscape itself, and that special quality of light which is truly a part of the Ile-de-France. This, and a sense of movement that is almost musical, make these paintings a lush and rewarding visual experience.

artscanada #226 / 227, May / June 1979.

Text: © Jane Urquhart. All rights reserved.

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