In the first of our monthly feature on underrated Canadian artists, VoCA salutes the late, great Gershon Iskowitz.
Like many Canadians, we were never properly schooled in 20th century Canadian art. On a visit to Gallery Moos in Toronto recently to inquire about work by the Costa Rica-based Canadian artist Leonidas Correa, we were struck by some of Mr. Iskowitz’s paintings.
From the Canadian encyclopedia: Gershon Iskowitz, was a survivor of concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, In 1949 he immigrated to Canada. After a Canada Council grant in 1967 enabled him to take a helicopter ride over Churchill, Man, his abstract paintings became reminiscent of aerial views of the landscape.
In 1985, recognizing the value of the Canada Council’s assistance over the years, Iskowitz established The Gershon Iskowitz Foundation, which gives $25 000 annually to a mature, practising artist.
In May 2007, VoCA favorite Mark Lewis, an Ontario-born, UK-based photographer and filmmaker, won the Gershon Iskowitz Prize for his contribution to visual arts in Canada.
Iskowitz’s multi-layered abstracts remind us of the early work of Peter Doig, wherein landscapes were overlaid with a painted haze.
This effect, for us, evokes the passing of time and of memory. In Mr. Isowitzâ€™s paintings, the layers of pattern move between a more obvious reading of shapes evoking islands or tufts of wool, and of painted-over layers that suggest the passing of time.
These are beautiful, intriguing and important paintings.