“Violet Deep – I” by Gershon Iskowitz

By: Ihor Holubizky

Lot 12 – Gershon Iskowitz, RCA (1919-1988), VIOLET DEEP – I, 1983. Oil on canvas; signed, titled, and dated verso; titled to gallery label verso. 38 x 70 in — 96.5 x 177.8 cm
Estimate $12,000-$15,000

In the early 1980s, Gershon Iskowitz began to transition his work from the ethereal abstracts of the 1970s – characterised by white and light-toned grounds with dense coloured cloud-cluster forms – to bold-coloured grounds and simplified cloud-lozenge forms. He continued this compositional and colour approach until his last paintings done in 1987.

The palette of the cloud-lozenges in Violet Deep – I is limited to ranges of orange, blue, green and yellow.[1] The violet is not a typical ground as it is painted on top to define the cloud-lozenge forms, consistent with his established painting practice. In turn, the violet area is punctuated by small dots in a lighter hue to create a deeper perceptual space.

Violet Deep – I developed into a series titled Northern Lights (1984), Sunlight and Midnight (1986) and can be seen as the foundation for his ambitious and large-scaled multi-panelled Septet paintings (1984-1986).[2] Iskowitz’s 1986 statement for the Septets is applicable to Violet Deep – I, describing his objective to “create…space and depth in terms of the sky and flying shapes,” and recalling his visit to Churchill, Manitoba in 1967, where he experienced the northern lights.

Closely-related to Violet Deep – I is Northern Lights #12, 1984, in the collection of Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, and comparable period and composition works in the collections of Musée d’art de Joliette and the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery.\

Ihor Holubizky is a cultural essayist and art historian. He received his PhD in art history from the University of Queensland.

About the auction

Held online from May 24-29, 2024, our spring auction of Canadian and International Fine Art brings together exceptional work from around the world. This auction features celebrated Canadian artists such as Cornelius Krieghoff, A.Y. Jackson, P.C. Sheppard, A.J. Casson, Bertram Booker, Alexandra Luke, Jean Paul Lemieux and Yves Gaucher as well as important First Nations artists Norval Morrisseau, Roy Thomas and Alex Janvier. International highlights include work by Jules Olitski, Karel Appel, Kwon Young-Woo, Norman Bluhm, Józef Bakoś, Léon Lhermitte and Montague Dawson.

Previews will be available at our Toronto gallery, located at 275 King Street East, Second Floor, Toronto:

 Thursday, May 23 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Friday, May 24 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Saturday, May 25 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Sunday, May 26 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Monday, May 27 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Tuesday, May 28 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Or by appointment.

Please contact us to find out more.


[1] There is a Violet Deep – II painting, and two titled Blue Violet, all 1983, in private collections.
[2] https://www.aci-iac.ca/art-books/gershon-iskowitz/key-works/northern-lights-septet-no-3/


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