Feature: Tony Urquhart

Tony Urquhart

collage and oil wash on brown paper

This work is part of the current exhibition AMBIGUOUS GEOGRAPHIES: UNEARTHING THE WORK OF TONY URQUHART, on view at Gallery Stratford to October 2, 2011.

WALL, TREE, AND LADDER was completed by Urquhart in 1989.  The source for the work came from the cover photo of Gary Michael Dault’s book CELLS OF OURSELVES, featuring a picture of a cemetery wall in rural France.  To create the work, Urquhart used a drain pipe running vertically up the wall as inspiration for the tree.  The ladder came from the artist’s imagination while the wreaths were drawn similar to those in existence. 

A Strange Coincidence: While working on the rough sketch for this piece, Urquhart sat down on a low, flat tomb.  Upon completing the 20 minute sketch, Urquhart stood up and discovered that the tomb upon which he had been sitting was inscribed as follows “Sacred to the Memory of Yvonne and Christian Zervos − united in the love of art”.  Christian Zervos was a well- known art critique who had written the catalogue raisonné of Pablo Picasso, in addition to works on numerous other twentieth century artists.  Urquhart found this coincidence to be particularly inspirational.

Working in Series:  the artist often creates works in series, as he did for Wall, Tree, and Ladder.  When working on a series, Urquhart believes that it is important to keep all of the pieces slightly unfinished until the end.  In this way, if he discovers something that he particularly likes, it can be added to the other pieces as well.  This helps to ensure that all of the pieces in the series are of equal quality and interest instead of having one particular piece stand out.   

About the Artist: Tony Urquhart is one of Canada's leading contemporary artists. His paintings, drawings, and unique box sculptures have received major recognition at home and abroad. His work is featured in many important private and public collections (including New York's Museum of Modern Art; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England; the Hirshhorn Collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; the Bibliotèque Nationale in Paris, France; and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.). He was one of the founders of CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation) that successfully established a fee structure for public museum and gallery exhibitions of contemporary artists. Urquhart was named to the Order of Canada in 1995, and received the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts with Kim Ondaatje in 2009. Urquhart resided in Stratford Ontario between 1999-2009.