Artwork by Maxwell Bennett Bates,  Northern Painting

Maxwell Bates
Northern Painting

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1960 lower right; titled on the stretcher
36 x 48 ins ( 91.4 x 121.9 cms )

Sold for $9,200.00
Sale date: May 25th 2017

David Burnett and Marilyn Schiff, Contemporary Canadian Art, Edmonton, 1983, pages 124-25
Bates experimented with abstraction in the 1960s as a response to the growing popularity of non-objective painting. Residing in Calgary during this period, Bates was far removed from the centres of abstract painting in Canada, and as such, much of his abstract works were an exploration of non-objective painting rather than a response to rigid doctrine. A close friendship was formed with Jock Macdonald and the influence of his automatic painting and early abstract exploration had an impact on Bates's own practice.

In “Northern Painting”, the artist has let the medium take control of the compositional outcome with the strategic placement of line as the drips form a cube-like grid from the the initial stroke of pigment. Still maintaining his penchant for bright expressive colours, the vibrant blue and red employed creates a harmonious all-over energy. Though a more fleeting period for Bates, this exploration speaks to the growing trend and importance of abstract painting in Canada. Moreover, Bates' contribution also tells of a certain regionality of art centres within Canada and the distinctive styles which emerged as a result, enriching the overarching dialogue of Canadian art history.

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Maxwell Bennett Bates
(1906 - 1980) RCA

Maxwell Bates was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1906. He studied at the Provincial Institute of Technology in Calgary under Lars Haukness. By the end of the twenties he and his friend Roy Stevenson were, according to R. L. Bloore "the most advanced painters in Western Canada." He spent the years 1931-1939 in London, exhibiting regularly with the Twenties Group. As a member of the British Expeditionary Force sent to France in 1940 he was captured by the Germans and was interned in a prison camp from 1940-1945. Returning to Calgary in 1946 he worked as an architect before coming to Victoria, B.C., in 1961. His work has been exhibited in London, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, Manchester, Auckland, Philadelphia and all major Canadian cities. Retrospective exhibitions of his work were held in Regina and Edmonton (1960-61), Victoria (1966), Winnipeg (1968) and Vancouver (1973). He received many awards for his painting and was a Fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy. He received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Calgary in 1971.