William Paterson Ewen 1925 - 2002 Canadian acrylic on gouged plywood Full Circle Flag Effect 96 x 132 1/4 inches 243.8 x 335.9 centimeters on verso titled on the Carmen Lamanna Gallery label, the Art Bank label, the Art Cologne label and the Art Gallery of Ontario label and inscribed with the Canada Council Art Bank Inventory number ""ABBA #76/7 - 0104"" and ""Ewen Paterson"" Literature:Doris Shadbolt, Paterson Ewen: Recent Works, The Vancouver Art Gallery, 1977, reproduced, unpaginated Art Cologne Catalogue 20, Internationaler Kunstmarkt, 1986 Philip Monk, Paterson Ewen, Phenomena: Paintings 1971 - 1987, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1987, reproduced page 63 Matthew Teitelbaum, editor, Paterson Ewen, 1996, page 90 Provenance:Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto Canada Council Art Bank Re-acquired by the Artist from the above Private Collection, Vancouver, 1986 Exhibited:Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto, November 30 - December 19, 1974 The Vancouver Art Gallery, Paterson Ewen: Recent Works, May 13 - June 5, 1977 Art Gallery of Peterborough, June 4 - August 21, 1979 Multicultural Television Workshops, Toronto, September 17, 1979 - February 24, 1983 Art Space, Peterborough, October 8 - December 10, 1985 Expo 86, Vancouver, Commissioner General's Office, March 10 - November 3, 1986 Cologne Art Fair, Germany, Canada as the featured country, a curated exhibition with Paterson Ewen, Rodney Graham, Guido Molinari, Michael Snow, Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace, November 13 - 19, 1986 Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Paterson Ewen, Phenomena: Paintings 1971 - 1987, January 22 - April 3, 1988, traveling to the London Regional Art Gallery, Ontario, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, 1988 - 1990 In 1970 Paterson Ewen moved into a studio in London, Ontario. He had just been released from the hospital where he had been treated for serious depression and alcoholism and was attempting to start fresh. Until that time, his work had been created with brushes on canvas. In the London studio he began to experiment by dipping pieces of torn felt into paint, daubing them onto canvas, playing a bit with the medium, and then looking at it. The marks suggested to him the idea of objects in space, traces of rain and tracks of lightning, in which he had always been interested. Thus the phenomena works were born. He then scoured books on the science of natural phenomena, learning how lightning actually works, studying eclipses, waves, the sun and moon. He explored interpretations of these things at first on traditional canvas, and then gave up this surface for wood with other materials applied, including sheet metal. The first gouged plywood works were made in the summer of 1971, just after the receipt of a Canada Council grant had allowed him to take a leave of absence from his teaching position. He moved to Toronto and set up a studio there where, for the first time in his career, he was able to paint full time. Ewen's gouged plywood works are remarkable for their originality, intensity, size and their impact on the genre of landscape painting. Although his first works were hand-gouged, he soon acquired an electric router which made the work faster and more responsive, as if he was drawing on plywood. Weather, and the idea of falling rain, is a subject he explores in some depth in the great cycle of his paintings of 1973 and 1974, which includes Precipitation, 1973 and Coastal Trip, 1974 (both in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario), and the large, three-panel masterwork of this group, Full Circle Flag Effect. While he was certainly an established artist prior to their inception, the dramatic phenomena works brought Ewen clearly into the focus of the national and international art worlds, and he was chosen to be Canada's sole representative for the Venice Biennale in 1982. By the time of Full Circle Flag Effect, Ewen was laying sheets of plywood - the largest with as many as three sheets fused together - on sawhorses and kneeling in the middle of them with the router in hand. The sheer physicality of the making of the works is quite apparent when looking at them; and the strength of the artist's force of will seems to be present in the gouge marks, furthering the image's impact. Simply put, they are considered his best works, and the period of the early to mid-1970s is the best of the best. Museums were quick to purchase them, and as a result, most are now in permanent collections, with very few in private hands. Full Circle Flag Effect shows us the phenomenon of rain in its various states. It is a simple, natural happening, yet in the pattern of Ewen's gouges, rain becomes a symphony. Each action is presented to us so simply, one thing at a time, and is almost childlike or illustrative in its handling. Put together, we have the magic of weather. The work is more than abstract - it is almost map-like; we simply have to figure out the map's legend ourselves. There is an interesting contrast between what we are being told by Full Circle Flag Effect and what we see as we look at it. The complex phenomenon of rain is made simple in its presentation, while our own understanding of rain - rain felt on our faces when we are in it - is nothing like the painted and gouged image. Ewen has as much abstracted the idea of rain as he has his depiction of it. Broken into its simplest elemental process, water drops fall down and evaporate up. Yet on his painterly surface, the way he uses the natural roughness of the plywood, the simple, lighthearted beauty of the marks, and the violent gouges in the material, all combine to provide the rain with a sense of otherworldliness, an intangible spirituality that firmly links Ewen with the great Canadian landscape painters of 60 years prior, while adeptly moving forward. American painter Eric Fischl states, "In many ways Paterson Ewen's paintings were a natural expression of what is, I think, a profound Canadian experience: namely, nature and the painting of the landscape. Here was someone who, in the 1970s, found a way of reinvigorating that tradition in an authentic way by recalling the power of nature." Please note that the Paterson Ewen will be previewed at Heffel Gallery Vancouver from October 8 16, 2008 (the Vancouver Gallery is closed for Canadian Thanksgiving weekend from October 11 - 13). For full cataloguing, text and images, please click here.