Artwork by Arthur Fortescue McKay,  Untitled Mandala SA 79-413

Art McKay
Untitled Mandala SA 79-413

enamel on masonite
signed, dated 1979 and inscribed “SA-79-413” on the reverse
48 x 48 ins ( 121.9 x 121.9 cms )

Auction Estimate: $8,000.00$6,000.00 - $8,000.00

Price Realized $7,670.00
Sale date: November 20th 2018

The Collection of TransCanada PipeLines Limited, Calgary
The mandala imagery was one of the most popular motifs for Arthur McKay to explore in his practice. A member of the Regina Five, McKay worked closely with fellow member Ronald Bloore in the distinct exploration of abstraction in Canadian art. The pairs' influence on each other's work can be referenced in the approach with texture, the subtle variation of tone and the manipulation of light. McKay employed the palette knife to delicately and precisely work the viscous enamel to create the intricate mandala form. Similar to Bloore, there is a subtle nod to an archeological visual language in the shell-like patterning of the light and dark enamel and the organic imperfect roundness of the central form.

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Arthur Fortescue McKay
(1926 - 2000) Regina Five

Born in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, he started serious study of art about the age of twenty. He attended the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art, Calgary (1946-48); Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris (1949-50); Columbia University, New York and the Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania (1956-57). In 1958, he began his non-objective paintings as he once explained, “I do not title paintings by personal and poetic association to various experiences in the past, since I am making paintings which are things in themselves rather than pictures of something or references to something else. They contain no ‘object-matter’ to which one could refer with a name. They do, however, contain ‘subject-matter’, the effect of which one can point to or suggest with a name.”

Viewing his 1968 show at the Norma Mackenzie Art Gallery, Katie Fitzrandolph explained, “They are subtle things, heavy with mood, and to explain that an untitled work from 1960 is like darkness plunging downward into light doesn’t come anywhere near describing either the painting or the feelings it brings forth. McKay…described his paintings as contemplative images, and as ‘about the past and future.’ They do have a timeless quality and an inevitability, which makes them both peaceful and quiet, and at the same time disturbing in an intellectual rather than emotional way. In many of the drawings; and some of the earlier paintings in the retrospective show, such as Epic Theme from 1960, there is a feeling of the primeval sea crashing on rocks recently solidified from the molten globe, splattering whiteness and foam at the beginning of time. In Mandela, 1962, the concentric forms seem to tell of a long-ago battle or feast, in a forgotten alphabet writing a lost tongue…. Two smaller paintings from 1967 have a light such as is found in Renaissance paintings bathing Madonnas and saints. The light bathes nothing but the surface of the painting, and is in itself the painting. The earth colors used in most of the paintings add to the sense of archaeological discovery, as to the glyphic textures of accounts of long forgotten wars and celebrations.”

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 4: Little - Myles", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1978