Spring Curated

May 05 - May 26, 2022

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The bidding history list updated on: Wednesday, June 29, 2022 06:29:33

LOT 028

1923 - 1999

Légende rouge
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1960 and on verso titled on the gallery label
39 x 50 in, 99.1 x 127 cm

Estimate: $60,000 - $80,000 CAD

Sold for: $64,850

Preview at: Heffel Montreal

Galerie Agnès Lefort, Montreal
Galerie d'art Michel Bigué, Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts
Important Canadian Art, Sotheby's Canada in association with Ritchie's, November 24, 2008, lot 169
Private Collection, Montreal

Roald Nasgaard, “Jean McEwen,” Abstract Painting in Canada, Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, 2007, page 177

Jean McEwen’s abstract visual vocabulary is one-of-a-kind, and is the result of a conflation of inspirations. Wanting to move away from the early influence of Borduas and the Automatistes, and with the former’s encouragement, McEwen moved to Paris from 1951 to 1953 to meet Riopelle at the heart of his exploration of Lyrical Abstraction. There, he was also exposed to American Abstract Expressionism, and especially Sam Francis’ works. All these elements contributed to the rapid evolution of McEwen’s style throughout the 1950s up until the early 1960s. He would favour direct applications of thin layers of paint, creating increasingly complex works with textured surfaces. In Légende rouge, the artist creates a gossamer-like chartreuse layer over a red background. A mottled black-red square punctuates the composition in the lower-left quadrant of the work, counter-balanced by two touches of green. These areas of colour bleed and fade into each other, creating a hazy, sensuous feeling of depth. McEwen achieved this dazzling effect of transparency by setting layer upon layer of lustrous oil paint, building up to a surface of tonal variations and depth. Art historian Roald Nasgaard wrote about the artist’s practice: “His continued coloured textures are built out of strata of superimposed paint layers, sometimes as many as a dozen. Their even more variegated hues and tones lie in ambiguous depths, sometimes opaque and other times transparent and luminous.”

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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