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Discover the Work of One of the Greatest Abstract Painters of his Time at the National Gallery of Canada
Thomas Nozkowski, Untitled (8-100), 2008. Oil on linen on panel, 55.9 x 71.1 cm. Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal Collection. A 08 21 P 1. Photo : Richard-Max Tremblay © Thomas Nozkowski / Courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York.
ONTARIO.- The most important retrospective exhibition ever devoted to New York artist Thomas Nozkowski recently opened at the National Gallery of Canada. Until September 20, some 60 works painted since 1980 by the internationally renowned artist will be on view in the Gallery’s Contemporary Art galleries. Although Nozkowski’s art career spans four decades, this is his first exhibition in Canada. One of the greatest and most influential artists of his generation, he has made a significant contribution to the field of abstract painting.

Thomas Nozkowski is the first exhibition organized at the National Gallery of Canada by the Gallery’s new director, Marc Mayer, since he arrived in January 2009. “He is daring, pushes his work to the limit, and reinvents himself in each painting. He is a true revolutionary,” Mayer commented.

Nozkowski’s work is distinct from that of his contemporaries in a number of ways, including the small size of his canvases – most measure 40.6 × 50.8 cm; and the diversity of his subjects – each painting is created in a unique style, and repetition from one image to another is avoided, although his format remains constant – small and horizontal. "Nozkowski’s imagination appears encyclopaedic," said Marc Mayer. "His pictures are eloquent and articulate, full of humour and pathos and close observation of things half remembered or entirely imagined."

Nozkowski openly states that the forms in his abstract paintings are derived from things or impressions in his daily life and experience. However, he refuses to reveal their sources so that he doesn’t influence those who contemplate his works. By the same token, none of his paintings have a title. Each of his works is coded with a number, leaving viewers free to formulate their own interpretation.

The artist’s works offer abstract forms in highly diversified colour palettes that evoke, among other things, movement and change. As well, Nozkowski has developed a wide variety of organic and geometric forms. The result is paintings that transgress historical conventions of abstraction, which keep it alive and relevant in the 21st century. In fact, according to Nozkowski, abstraction needed to become homely in order to survive, and his painting has evolved from that premise. With him, abstraction becomes an endless adventure in structure, texture, tone, and mood.

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