Summer Dresses, 1953
oil on masonite
40.6 x 30.5 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Mr. Peter Dobush
Born in Alberta, Philip Surrey received formal art training in Winnipeg, Vancouver, and New York City, before settling in Montreal. Surrey was drawn to Montreal for its unique urban flavour, and he gravitated toward the community of artists who gathered around John Lyman and the Contemporary Arts Society. The city served as fuel and resource material for the observations of people and cityscapes that intrigued him. This fascination is conveyed in the artist’s study of aspects of urban life, particularly the isolation of the individual within a crowd. The strong narrative quality in Surrey’s work is reinforced by a distinctive quality of light and a constrained palette that conveys a certain melancholic atmosphere.