Gershon Iskowitz - Rare Paintings from the 1960's & 1970's
May 10 - June 7, 2008

Born in Kielce, Poland, in 1921, Gershon Iskowitz demonstrated a keen interest in the visual arts at a young age, but received no formal training in his youth. With the outbreak of World War II, his dreams of studying fine art at the Warsaw Academy were never realized. After surviving nearly six years of internment, the artistic vision of his early years bears witness to the horrors of the Holocaust. It was not until after the war that he received his first formal art training at the Munich Academy in 1947, where the free-spirited young artist found himself discouraged by the highly traditional methods of teaching. It was the private instruction of the great Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka that formed the most important aspect of his training.

Iskowitz leaves Germany for Canada in 1949, finally settling in Toronto. Throughout the following decade, one can observe the development of his hallmark style, which reaches its culmination in his paintings of the late 1960's and 1970's. The work of this particular period conveys a maturity achieved through a significant shift in the artist's source of inspiration. The depiction of painful memories is transformed into a dynamic representation of the present through a direct experience of landscape. David Burnett writes that: "to see the art of Gershon Iskowitz is to understand how it is rooted in the directness of experience." Iskowitz's unique and personal representation of the Canadian landscape finds its expression in an exuberant and joyful use of both colour and light. Over the course of the 1960's and 1970's, the northern Canadian landscape becomes the primary inspiration for his painting, while the dynamism and immediacy of colour become the artist's principal mode of self-expression.

Iskowitz was recognized in the international arena in 1972, when he was one of two artists chosen to represent Canada at the XXXVI Venice Biennial. In 1984, an Iskowitz retrospective was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which traveled throughout Canada, and as far as Canada House in London, England. Each year, the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation, established by the artist in 1985 in association with the Canada Council and the Art Gallery of Ontario, awards the Gershon Iskowitz Prize - one of the most important visual arts awards in Canada.

This exhibition of the mature work of the artist from the period spanning the late 1960's to the late 1970's unites the last remaining works in the Estate and represents the artist's own collection of paintings from this historical period.

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