Rouge sur noir, 1962
oil on canvas
152.8 x 153.2 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of the Women’s Committee
Jean McEwen abandoned pharmacy studies for art late in his university career. The largely self-taught Montreal painter travelled to Paris in 1951, where he met and worked alongside fellow Quebecois artist Jean-Paul Riopelle, who encouraged him to experiment in abstraction. Back in Canada, McEwen’s artistic career began to accelerate in 1954, after solo exhibitions in Montreal and Ottawa. The layers of paint, a combination of thin glazes and thick impasto, that cover his canvases appear as veils of colour, with shifting transparency. The vertical composition, as seen in Rouge sur noir, is a trademark of his work, and fills his painting with an inherent serenity and meditative quality.