Artwork by Gershon Iskowitz,  Spring Yellows - B

Gershon Iskowitz
Spring Yellows - B

oil on canvas
signed, titled and dated 1982 on the reverse
39 x 34 ins ( 99.1 x 86.4 cms )

Sold for $18,400.00
Sale date: November 23rd 2017

Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art, Calgary
Private Collection, Calgary
David Burnett, Iskowitz, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1982, page 72
Adele Freedman, Gershon Iskowitz: Painter of Light, Toronto/Vancouver, 1982, pages 132 and 148
Peter Mellen, Landmarks of Canadian Art, Toronto, 1978, page 240
Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada, Toronto/Vancouver, 2007, page 244
Dennis Reid, A Concise History of Canadian Painting, third edition, Toronto, 2012, page 375
Upon immigrating to Canada after the Second World War, Iskowitz was heavily influenced by the Canadian landscape in his abstract works. Rather than rendering the land in traditional landscape art, the artist instead expressed this inspiration through the abstraction of bright contrasting forms. Often employing bright yellow, greens and blues, Iskowitz accentuated the contrast with layered white pigments that produced an ethereal cloud-like quality. Dennis Reid describes the artist’s process: “Iskowitz worked only at night under artificial light, in oils...He would build up a picture slowly, applying a colour, then when it had dried, applying another over it, leaving only parts of the previous layers exposed, thinly veiling others, or obscuring some parts entirely....” Not by coincidence, this aesthetic can be linked back to the artist's experience granted by the Canada Council to view the northern landscape by helicopter in 1967.

In “Spring Yellows - B” the viewer experiences the abstract composition as if from an aerial vantage point with the veil of white pigments opening to allow the coloured landscape below to be viewed. Iskowitz comments, “...the experience, out in the field, of looking up in the trees or in the sky, of looking down from the height of a helicopter. So what you try to do is make a composition of all those things, make some kind of reality...That's painting.”

In 1982, Freedman writes how over the past decade of his artistic production, Iskowitz's accents “have become more marked and their tone more confident and direct. They are about his excitement of discovering a new blue...a fresh nuance or shape.”

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Gershon Iskowitz
(1921 - 1988) RCA

Gershon Iskowitz was born in Kielce, Poland, in 1921. Although he demonstrated a keen interest in the visual arts at a very young age, he received no formal training during his youth. With the outbreak of World War II, his dreams of studying fine art at the Warsaw Academy were never realized. After surviving nearly six years of internment, during which he continued to sketch secretly, his youthful vision bears witness to the brutality of daily life in the concentration camps and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was not until after the war that he received his first formal art training at the Munich Academy in 1947.

In 1949, Iskowitz immigrated to Toronto. Over the next decade, his artistic vision would evolve from the depiction of bleak images of horrific wartime memories into a new and optimistic expression of his experience in the country. Gradually, the artist’s description of the painful events of his past was transformed into a dynamic representation of the present through landscape. Iskowitz’s unique and personal perception of the Canadian landscape found its expression in an exuberant and joyful use of colour and light.

Beginning in 1964, Iskowitz exhibited his work regularly at Toronto’s Gallery Moos. From 1967-70, he taught at the New School in Toronto, during which time his Spadina Avenue studio was a popular place to visit amongst young artists. The artist received national recognition in 1972, when he was one of two artists chosen to represent Canada at the XXXVI Venice Biennial. An Iskowitz retrospective was held in 1984 at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which travelled throughout Canada, as well as to Canada House in London, England. Each year, the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation, established by the artist in 1985 in association with the Canada Council, awards the Gershon Iskowitz Prize – one of the most important visual arts awards in Canada.