West Tower Art

William Ronald
Maya (1957)

Oil on canvas
48 in x 36 in (122 cm x 91 cm)

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William Ronald, R.C.A. (August 13, 1926 – February 9, 1998) (born William Ronald Smith, was an important Canadian painter, best known as the founder of the influential Canadian abstract art group Painters Eleven in 1954. William Ronald was a graduate of the Ontario College of Art. Working for the Robert Simpson Co. department store, he persuaded management to pair abstract paintings with furniture displays, thereby discovering a way to get the public to accept non-representational art. Ronald shared a studio with Frank Stella and joined the stable of artists at Manhattan’s Kootz Gallery, where he was put on retainer. He was quickly accepted by critics and collectors and enjoyed a multi -year period of success. Eventually, Ronald returned to Toronto, as a landed immigrant in the country of his birth. He was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Jack Shadbolt
Northern Emblem (No. 1 mural study) 1967)

Oil/lucite on canvas
79 in x 48 in (200 cm x 120 cm)

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Jack Shadbolt (1909-1998) was born in Shoeburyness, England. In 1912 his family immigrated to Canada, settling for two years in the interior of British Columbia, and then moving to Victoria in 1914. His father was a sign painter, and the young Shadbolt often helped him with his work. Shadbolt began his artistic studies at Victoria College in 1927. He studied at the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts with Charles H. Scott and Fred Varley. Later, he travelled to England and took classes at the Euston Road School, followed by studies in Paris at the Académie-Grande Chaumière and the André Lhote School of Art. In 1942 he enlisted in the army and documented his expertise through sketches. He was sent to London in 1945 to work for the Canadian Army War Artists Administration. Shadbolt returned to British Columbia with his wife Doris and in 1948 moved to New York where he attended classes at the Art Students League.

Shadbolt was an influential teacher. He taught both painting and drawing at the Vancouver School of Art and was the first instructor at the Emma Lake workshop, Regina College, Saskatchewan. Shadbolt represented Canada in the Venice and São Paulo Biennials, the Carnegie International at Pittsburgh and at the Brussels and Seattle World’s Fairs. In 1972 he was appointed to the Order of Canada. In 1988 the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation for the Visual Arts was formed.

Jean-Paul Riopelle, RCA
Waves (1959)

Oil on canvas
26 in x 32 in (967cm x 81 cm)

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Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) began his career at the École Polytechnique in 1941, pursuing engineering with some architecture and photography. In 1942 he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal but shifted his studies to the École du Meuble, graduating in 1945. There he studied with Paul-Émile Borduas, under whose direction he made his first abstract painting. Borduas and several of his students, includ- ing Riopelle, formed a group that worked and exhibited together. The group became known as the Automatistes for their spontaneous method of painting.

In 1946, Riopelle first travelled to France, where he would return and settle the following year. He had his first solo exhibition at the Surrealist meeting place, Galerie La Dragonne in Paris, in 1949. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, he met and became friends with artists, writers, and gallery owners. He pioneered a style of painting where large quantities of varied coloured paints were thickly applied to the canvas with a trowel. He was repre- sented in New York and participated in the Venice and São Paulo Biennials.

In the 1960s, Riopelle renewed his ties to Canada where exhibitions were held at the National Gallery of Canada (1963), and the Musée du Quebec (1967). In the early 1970s, he built a home and studio in the Laurentians and from 1974 he divided his time between St. Marguerite in Quebec and Saint-Cyr-en-Arthies in France. He partici- pated in his last exhibition in 1996.

Marcel Barbeau
Libertarian Retina (1964)

Acrylic on canvas
80 in x 60 in (203 cm x 152 cm)

libertarian retina

Marcel Barbeau
Diamants, passerelle d’etoiles (1997)

Acrylic on canvas
80 in x 60 in (203 cm x 152 cm)

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Marcel Barbeau is firstly an abstract expressionist and an action painting artist (1946-1957 and 1971-1980), whose paintings and sculptures become the material continuation of instinctual movement, which he superposes until formal achievement is reached. He is a pioneer of new pictorial approaches, such as all over image, the crop- ping of composition by means of cutting a larger work or the association of several gestural techniques. His kinetic works (1959-1966) suggest the expression of movement, until it becomes incantatory hallucination. While adopt- ing a minimalist approach in his quest for purity (1960-1963 and 1968-1971), he rejects its theoretical and formal constraints, to which he never totally submits. In his paintings, drawings or sculptures, his most simple composi- tions or most stripped forms – from the abstract figures that inhabit them – suggest movement, time passing by, and a future to come. In that regard, his art constantly stands on the fringe of the aesthetic movements to which he relates to, imposing to the latter his own questionings, his own singular approach.