Artwork by Kenneth Campbell Lochhead,  Blue Soar

Kenneth Lochhead
Blue Soar

enamel on paper
signed and dated 1972 lower right
26 x 20 ins ( 66 x 50.8 cms ) ( sheet )

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Provenance:
Mira Godard Gallery, Montreal/Toronto
D & E Lake Ltd. Fine Arts, Toronto
Private Collection, Calgary

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Kenneth Campbell Lochhead
(1926 - 2006) Regina Five, Order of Canada

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, he received his early education there and became interested in art at public school. His musician mother and scientist father encouraged him, and he attended Saturday morning art classes at the Victoria Museum under Mabel Mat. He received his Matriculation Certificate form Glebe Collegiate in 1944 and took a commercial art course at the Ottawa Technical School of Fine Arts where he specialized in water colour and egg tempera painting. Then he entered the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia where he spent the next four years (1945-49) studying book illustration, water colour and oil painting, working in collaboration with sculptors and architects, and studying mural design in which he specialized and majored during his fourth year. He won several awards and scholarships including travel scholarships. His 1948 travelling scholarship made possible his study and travel of four months in France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Holland.

During 1949 he was given an assignment with the Public Relations Directorate of the Canadian Army in Churchill, Manitoba, for art studies of army life. In the fall and winter of 1949-50 he was employed by the Exhibition Commission of the Department of Trade and Commerce at Ottawa on the preparation of panels, and other work for overseas exhibition of Canadian industry displays.

In January of 1950 he introduced studio courses in drawing and painting at Carleton University, Ottawa. That year as well, he won first prize in the O'Keefe Brewing Company's art competition for artists between the ages of 18 and 30 years. His prize winning painting entitled “Fishermen” was strong in design reminiscent of the early American school. He was appointed Director, School of Art, Regina College, in 1950 and remained there until 1964. In 1952 he married Patricia Ann Poole.

In 1953 Donald Buchanan noted, “Appointed to teach art at Regina College, he was given a studio in the school building and allowed plenty of spare time for his own work. He wholeheartedly accepted his new life; everything, even the bitter cold, seemed to stimulate him. But what he was most curious about, as a new-comer from the East, was neither weather nor landscape but the thoughts and actions of the people themselves....So he began to frequent more often the villages and the farm homes. Yet what he sensed and what he wanted to depict pictorially defied the limits of ordinary portraiture and the normal symbolism of the muralist. In Saskatchewan life, a dry humour mixed with traces of either unwitting vulgarity or awkward romanticism had been noticed by other observers....But such things are not easy to render in paint, although Lochhead has made some brave attempts as in 'The Gopher Hunt'. Certain moods of uncompromising starkness are also always present on the prairies. These of course, had been recorded before but never with such bold menace as Lochhead now obtained in his large work 'The Kite Flyers'....This year, Lochhead found that he was able to compound from these initial probings a new and more imaginative kind of painting, quite personal to himself. The path he has now taken is not open for all to follow, for its entrance is veiled; yet it allows him, quietly and without too much fuss from onlookers, to penetrate intimately the hard but sentimental core of Saskatchewan life. His latest works reveal his success.”

Lochhead studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Barnes Foundation. In 1950, he became Director of the Regina School of Art and in 1955 created the Emma Lake Professional Artists’ Workshops. There, he came under the influence of visiting artists Jack Shadbolt, Barnett Newman and Kenneth Noland, as well as critic Clement Greenburg. In 1960, Lochhead formed the group of artists The Regina Five. Dr. R.H. Hubbard in 1955 was in Regina to open an exhibition and visited Lochhead whom he later described in Canadian Art magazine as an artist who in five years, “...has become one of the leading painters in the province...He has found the essence of the prairie milieu in Balgonie which is some fifteen miles east of Regina...Lochhead at the time was completely immersed in designs for mural compositions...” In 1958 Lochhead won first place in the competition to create a mural for the international terminal building at Gander airport, Newfoundland. His mural entitled “Flight and Its Allegories” decorates the waiting room of the terminal.

Lochhead took a leave of absence (1958-59) from the University of Saskatchewan for study in Italy, Austria, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and France and spent eight months in Rome. He was accompanied on his trip by his wife and two sons. In 1961 he was in Ottawa to be Chairman of Symposium “Five Regina Artists” which included an exhibition of paintings by Ronald Bloore, Ted Godwin, Arthur McKay, Douglas Morton and himself. In 1964 he was appointed Associate Professor, later becoming Professor, School of Art, University of Manitoba.

Generally speaking his work began with figurative landscapes then he moved into surrealist painting and from there to post-painterly abstraction. His painting does not rest there for he continually searches for new avenues to express his ideas. Commenting on his recent work of the late 1960s, Sheila Bleeks of the Winnipeg “Free Press” noted in 1969, “Winnipeg has only begun to recognize the presence of this Canadian artist now living in its midst. More and more, Lochhead originals are making the scene here as well as elsewhere in Canada. His large banners, which are designed by Lochhead and worked into a cotton-backed silk fabric by his wife Pat, hang in the lobby of the Pan-Am Pool, and in the entrance foyer of the Centennial Concert Hall, their size accentuating the heightened spaciousness of both structures, and their floating silky brightness softening the solid sombreness of concrete construction. Similar Lochhead banners also decorate Winters College at Toronto's York University and the Charlottetown Confederation Centre in Prince Edward Island. A large abstract mural also represents Lochhead at York 'where students are exposed to all types of art around them rather than walls and walls of dusty old portraits of scowling founding fathers.' Lochhead canvases go on exhibition 'every two years or so', usually in Toronto or Montreal. His most recent watercolours will be shown for the first time at Winnipeg Gallerie Fore...As in his large wall-size canvases his sense of geometry pervades his watercolours as well. 'They are really calligraphic sketches-- simple strokes of circles and blotches....Some are well-developed and some aren't' To Lochhead, art reflects the changing times. At present, he is working to adapt his at medium to the changing times by using the economics of multiplicity...Lochhead is experimenting with a local silkscreen shop to reproduce his designs on a multiple basis.”

He exhibited numerous on-man shows throughout Canada and won multiple prestigious awards and prizes, exhibiting extensively throughout Canada and the United States. He has been honoured with the Order of Canada and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977