Lot Sale Results

Jack Leonard Shadbolt
Fall 2015 - 1st Session Live auction

Lot # 069

Jack Leonard Shadbolt
BCSFA CGP CSPWC OC RCA 1909 - 1998 Canadian

Seashore Nocturne
acrylic and latex on board triptych
signed and dated 1977 and on verso titled, dated and inscribed with the artist's name on each panel
60 x 120 in  152.4 x 304.8cm

Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver
Private Collection, Vancouver

Scott Watson, Jack Shadbolt, 1990, page 149

Jack Shadbolt was an influential second-generation West Coast modernist. During the 1930s and 1940s, he had been keenly interested in emerging art movements in Europe and the United States, and had assimilated influences from Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Surrealism and early Abstract Expressionism. After World War II, he emerged as a leader in Vancouver’s modernist community of artists, architects and planners. Shadbolt’s profound connection with nature in British Columbia, expressed through the use of biomorphic form, created a body of work that, considered as a whole, was an explosion of creative ideas that continued to evolve decade after decade. He was an artist intimately linked with images of the West Coast who was also informed by the wider world view of emerging art movements and theories. His work was universal in its merging of the conscious and unconscious, its infusion of psychological yearnings and potentialities and primitive potency.
One of Shadbolt’s most extraordinary and sought-after motifs is that of the butterfly or moth, which first appeared in the early 1970s, when he worked on his Butterfly Transformations series. Associated with freedom and celebration, this proved to be such a potent theme that Shadbolt continued to work with it through the 1980s. The abstract design of butterfly wings was a rich source of patterning for Shadbolt’s complex images of organic form. His imagery ranged from works with large forms on abstract backgrounds or, as we see here, an abstracted natural environment, to complex planes of layered and entangled biomorphic forms through which the butterfly flitted. Shadbolt explained the genesis of his fascination: while in the Swiss Alps in 1969, he was standing in a meadow when there appeared “up from the gentians, in front of our eyeballs, two zig-zagging fritillaries flip-flopping out over the space. Nothing much, but their event seemed momentous – demented, dangerous, memorable.”
Another source of interest to Shadbolt was the work of Vladimir Nabokov, well-known for his novel Lolita, who as well as being a writer was a lepidopterist, who at one time was in charge of Lepidoptera at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. For Nabokov, there were associations to sexual pursuit and conquest in the practice of butterfly collecting. This intrigued Shadbolt, who discussed with a psychiatrist friend the concept of the butterfly as a symbol of sexual release.
Seashore Nocturne is a stunning work in which a butterfly, or possibly a moth - as this is a nocturne and moths are active at night - floats over an abstracted seascape containing drifting, fragmented shapes and biomorphic sea forms. The sea is not the natural environment of the butterfly or moth, thus this could symbolize the notion of escape to an imaginary realm, or a dream of an environment outside of one's usual experience, inhabited by strange creatures such as the pale forms in the central panel, which are reminiscent of shells or amorphous sea creatures. Subtle reflections on time and mortality could also be read into this work through the juxtaposition of the timeless sea and the ephemeral butterfly, whose short lifespan makes it all the more precious.
In Seashore Nocturne Shadbolt shows his mastery of the formal properties of painting. The work possesses a vital colour palette full of contrasts between the cool blues and greens of the ocean and the bright, warm notes of purple, pink, red and orange. It is full of movement in its shifting spatial planes, its floating forms, and the ocean, which ripples and foams in the dark. Resonant with hidden meaning, this interactive realm of air, water and form captures our imagination with its life-affirming energy.

Estimate: $40,000 ~ $60,000 CAD

Sold For: $177,000.00 CAD (including buyer's premium)

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