Historic Art | Paterson Ewen

Full moon 1987 mixed media on gouged plywood 90x96 in web
Abstract composition 1961  12

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Full Moon, 1987

Technique: acrylic on gouged plywood

Dimensions: 96x90 in.


Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto;
Doug Udell Gallery, Edmonton

Carmen Lamanna Gallery, November 14 – December 17, 1987;

Phenomena: Paintings 1971-1987, Art Gallery of Ontario, January 22-April 3, 1988; London Regional Art Gallery, April 30-June 12, 1988; Vancouver Art Gallery, July 14- September
11, 1988; National Gallery of Canada, April 1-May 15, 1989; Glenbow Museum, December 2, 1989- January 28, 1990;

Phillip Monk, Paterson Ewen: Phenomena: Paintings 1971-1987, reproduced pg. 90, plate 42

Full Moon, 1987
The 1970s and 80s marked a period of monumental achievement for Ewen as an artist. The late 60s saw the end of his marriage and the loss of a full-time teaching job, which in turn contributed to a nervous breakdown. Ewen took a hiatus from art marking, moved from Montreal to London, Ontario, and in a new city with new colleagues, he re- addressed his practice. By 1971, he had broken away from the canvas and moved to working on large-scale plywood. This move entirely shifted the trajectory of his practice: starting by sketching onto blank sheets, he established compositional structures by carving into the wood with an electric router and hand tools, working the material until he was satisfied with the results.

Full Moon is a grand work from 1987, measuring an immense eight feet high. A testament to the magnificent forces of nature, his work from this late period manifested in massive paintings of abstracted landscapes, weather systems, and celestial bodies. The moon was an iconic subject for Ewen, and he captured it in all of its phases, focusing on its gouged pits and scars. Ewen’s interest in connecting with nature echoed the sentiments of his Canadian art predecessors, the Group of Seven, but addressed the concept for a new era with changing ideals, establishing him as an important force in Canadian art history.

About the Artist

Paterson Ewen (1925-2002) had a diverse artistic practice that took influence from many of Canada’s major art movements. Starting the 1940s, after serving in the Canadian Forces in the Second World War, Ewen enrolled in University for science before transferring to the Montreal Museum School of Fine Art. His early work was influenced by instructors Goodridge Roberts and Arthur Lismer, and was primarily landscape based. He moved into abstraction into the 50s and 60s, and exhibited with the Automatises. His career shifted once again in the 1970s, when he developed the large- scale plywood works, for which he is most well- known. Ewen represented Canada at the 1982 Venice Biennale, and his work appears in important public and private collections across the country. He passed away at the age of 76 in 2002.
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