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David Urban (1966)

Why a blog on David Urban. The reason is simple. Urban exhibited at Barbara Farber in 1996. Unknown and available at that time at reasonable prices. Now almost 30 years later, paintings from that gallerist and its artists from that decade come again to the market. One of these artists is David Urban. Well known in Canada and the US and lesser known in Europe, but still there are some paintings to be found in European private collections and museums. One of the last auctions from last auctioning season had such a painting by David Urban. THE GOLDEN NUMBER from 1996. I was able to buy this painting for the FTN collection and it will be for sale in a few weeks. If you are interested , please contact me at

The work of David Urban is defined by bold collisions of line and shape, clashing tones and kinetic brushstrokes. Urban builds his dynamic paintings, layer upon layer, incorporating the traditions of still life and landscape, abstraction and realism. Rhythmic geometries conjure up networks of boards, beams and girders. His work explores the physical presence of sound, with a strong sense of connectivity and rhythmical structure. Urban produces forms that engage the viewer, pursuing an endless investigation into how and why we perceive images. Urban focuses on the history and methodology of color and painting itself, embedding powerful brushstrokes and charcoal drawings in thick layers of paint. His work explores the interplay of representation and abstraction while presenting his two distinct streams of contemporary painting.
Urban is a true Renaissance man and scholar of art history, literature and music. He has a master’s degree in English Literature and is trained in several instruments. He studied the work of early Modernist painters such as Piet Mondrian and Henri Matisse. His artwork is the culmination of this creative effort and research.
Urban graduated from York University in 1989 with both BA and BA.

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Emily Carr (1871-1945)

Emily Carr was a painter and writer whose lifelong inspiration was the coastal environment of British Columbia. Her later paintings of the vast Canadian West Coast sky and monumental trees, with their sweeping brushstrokes, demonstrate her continued desire to paint in a “big” way that she felt was in keeping with the expansiveness of her environment.

Carr first studied at the California School of Design in San Francisco from 1890 to 1893 and sketched in the First Nations village of Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island in 1899. Carr travelled to England in 1899, studying in London and at St. Ives in Cornwall. She returned to Canada five years later, first to Victoria and then moved to Vancouver to teach. In 1907 she travelled by ship to Alaska and determined to depict the monumental arts of the First Nations of the West Coast.

In search of a bigger vision of art, she went to France in 1910, where she was introduced to the work of the Fauves, French artists who were dubbed the “wild beasts” for their daring use of bright colours. In 1912 Carr made a six-week painting trip to fifteen First Nations villages along the British Columbia coast. After exhibiting the results in Vancouver, Carr settled in Victoria, where she lived by renting out rooms, growing fruit, breeding dogs, and, later, making pottery and rugs decorated with Indigenous designs to sell to tourists.

In 1927 Carr was invited to participate in the Exhibition of Canadian West Coast Art in Ottawa. The exhibition included thirty-one of her paintings, as well as pottery and rugs. She came east for the opening, and in Toronto met members of the Group of Seven, beginning a lifelong correspondence with Lawren Harris.

After the success of this trip, Carr returned to Victoria and began the most prolific period of her career. She painted Indigenous subjects until 1931, then took as her principal themes the trees and forests of British Columbia and the coastal skies. In 1937 she suffered a heart attack and devoted much of her time to writing. Her first book, Klee Wyck (1941), received the Governor General’s Award for literature in 1942. She had solo exhibitions in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal prior to her death in 1945. has the 1977 Carr catalog now available.

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Sorel Etrog (1933-2014)

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For us in Europe this is a lesser known artist/sculptor. But it appears that Etrog had his exhibitions at the Marlborough gallery and Galerie d’Eendt in the mid Seventies.

In 2000, a Toronto newspaper dubbed artist Sorel Etrog the “Grand Old Man of Canadian Sculpture.” It was an apt description, after a career spanning five decades including the installation of outdoor sculptures across Toronto, Canada and beyond. Yet Etrog was much more – a painter, draughtsman, film maker and not least, a literary man. He was keen to collaborate with the great thinkers of his generation, including playwrights Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, Toronto media guru Marshall McLuhan and composer John Cage.

Etrog was born into a Jewish family in Romania in 1933. After a childhood spent in flight from the Nazis and Soviets, he immigrated with his family to Israel in 1950 where he began to study art and exhibit. In 1958 he won a scholarship to the Brooklyn Museum of Art School and moved to New York City. There, he had a chance encounter with Toronto collector and AGO patron Sam Zacks, who invited him to Canada.

Etrog permanently settled in Toronto in 1963. Recognition came quickly with museum purchases, international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale (1966), and a commission to design the Canadian Film Award statue, now known as the Genie (1968). Etrog resided in our city until his death in early 2014.

www, has the Marlborough publication available

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Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002)

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Two names spring to mind when you look at the works by Jean Paul Riopelle  ( Canada , 1923) and read about his life. He lived near Giverny ( the place where Monet had his studio and gardens) and he used a technique much the same as Jackson Pollock did. Dripping paint on a horizontal canvas. The result ….. colorful and abstract compositions which have the colors of a Monet painting and the abstract construction of a Pollock one.

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Riopelle’s style in the 1940s changed quickly from Surrealism to Lyrical Abstraction (related to abstract expressionism), in which he used myriad tumultuous cubes and triangles of multicolored elements, facetted with a palette knife, spatula, or trowel, on often large canvases to create powerful atmospheres.

The presence of long filaments of paint in his painting from 1948 through the early 1950s has often been seen as resulting from a dripping technique like that of Jackson Pollock. Rather, the creation of such effects came from the act of throwing, with a palette knife or brush, large quantities of paint onto the stretched canvas (positioned vertically).

For me Riopelle is a fascinating artist and because of the beautiful publications Maeght made with this artist it is not entirely out of reach financially. A very nice Riopelle publications can be obtained for less than euro 100,– at