Artwork by Harold Barling Town,  Tyranny of the Corner (Hypothesis Set)

Harold Town
Tyranny of the Corner (Hypothesis Set)

oil and lucite on canvas
signed (twice), titled and dated 1962 (twice) on the reverse
81 x 74 ins ( 205.7 x 188 cms )

Sold for $20,700.00
Sale date: November 22nd 2016

Private Collection, Ontario
Gerta Moray, “Harold Town, Life & Work” (online publication), Art Canada Institute, Toronto, 2014, pages 31 and 62
Iris Nowell, “Harold Town,” Vancouver, 2014, page 103
In this captivating, large-scale work from his highly acclaimed “Tyranny of the Corner” series, Town reveals a marvelous labyrinth of design. Gerta Moray notes that this series is one of the artist’s “first forays into what would later be called postmodern concerns. By using the term ‘set’ in their titles, Town indicates that they are to be associated with the artifice of theatre and performance—the term is used for both a theatrical mise en scène and a session in jazz.” Moray discusses the artist’s process: “He set a number of predetermined rules to govern the composition. As the title informs us, the corners are to be the starting point... Before starting to paint on the primed canvas, Town applies thin washes of blue-black paint at the centre and tilts the surface to make the paint run... The black areas would tend to recede and be read as background were it not for the pattern of painted rings and dots that sits on their surfaces.” These rings, jokingly called “doughnuts” by Town, can be found in several works from this series. Using these repeating motifs of circles and lines in “Tyranny of the Corner (Hypothesis Set),” he evokes the feeling of a large tapestry. The viewer might also imagine an aerial view of a landscape, with thin white lines denoting rivers that flow through the land. However, Town’s true devotion here is to “the neglected, difficult-to-accomodate corners of the canvas”. Intricate dark and light shapes draw the eye towards the compelling four corners. In 1962, Town described his move away from the dominating central image, favouring the corners which “in most paintings are like uninvited guests at a party, uneasy and unattended. In my series... I have invited the corners to come early to the party and tried, if anything, to make all the elements of the painting that arrived later a trifle uncomfortable.”

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Harold Barling Town
(1924 - 1990) Painters Eleven, OSA, RCA

Born in 1924, Harold Town lived most of his life in Toronto. He studied at both Central Technical School and the Ontario College of Art and, upon graduating in 1945, became an accomplished illustrator for advertising agencies and magazines such as Macleans and Mayfair. Town was a founder and member of the Painters Eleven, a group of Toronto abstract artists that exhibited together during the 1950s.