Paterson Ewen

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

This traveling show of Paterson Ewen’s works begins with several of his paintings from the early ’70s. At this time he made a sharp break from his formal abstract works of the ’50s and ’60s, seeking a new, less didactic form of expression. The earliest works are Thunderchain, 1971, an assemblage piece made of metal, wood, and linoleum, and Rocks Moving in the Current of a Stream, 1971, whose backdrop of metal and plywood marks a move away from working on canvas. The latter uses diagrammatic symbols—arrows and readable, abstract signs—to represent natural phenomena, a growing source of inspiration for Ewen.

The resonant energy of the large-scale pieces parallels the natural forces they emulate. These quasi scientific works, called “phenomascapes,” depict wind, hail, rain, lightning, solar flares, stars, and planets, but they correspond to no implicit mythology. They bear the same wild,

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