Artwork by Donald Jarvis,  Abstraction

Don Jarvis

coloured in on paper
signed and dated 1986 lower right
30 x 22.5 ins ( 76.2 x 57.2 cms ) ( sheet )

Auction Estimate: $700.00$500.00 - $700.00

Price Realized $885.00
Sale date: September 12th 2018

Private Collection, Ontario

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Donald Jarvis
(1923 - 2001)

Born in Vancouver, B.C., he was particularly interested in drawing at an early age and when he was 19 entered the Vancouver School of Art (1941) where he studied for a year under B.C. Binning, J.L. Shadbolt, C.H. Scott, Amess and others. His art education was interrupted probably because of the war. He returned to the Vancouver School of Art in 1946 and completed his course in 1948 when he won an Emily Carr Scholarship.

With this scholarship, he studied in New York City under Hans Hofmann. “Canadian Art” magazine had noted his work under the section “Directions in British Columbia Painting” where his “Victory Square” appeared and was captioned, “the post-impressionist tradition thoroughly absorbed and given a new adaption to our environment.” By 1948 he had left his post-impressionistic tradition for a style partly or wholly derived from his study and environment in New York. A one man show of his oils, water colours and drawings took place at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the University of British Columbia in the winter of 1949-50. “Canadian Art” magazine viewing the show found, “In all of the three mediums employed, but most richly in his oils, his forms, which were once muted and tonal, now deeply glow in rich intensities, while his meaning, now less obvious, remains deeply charged with an emotion which arises from the play of his imagination on his environment.”

Tow of his abstract renditions of the city were purchased by the National Gallery of Canada. Both works seemed to be a commentary on the imprisonment of the individual by modern society with its dominant towers not unlike perhaps the Tower of Babel; the height and impressiveness of which was intended to keep certain ancient tribes together as a power to dominate the rest of the world. In the process of attempting to build the tower they were punished by God by not being able to communicate with one another. Modern man imprisoned in our Babel-like society of materialistic preoccupation of mass production and the quest for the almighty dollar, stalks through our cities like a robot unable or unwilling to communicate with his neighbour.

But while Jarvis painted man in the city, he also painted landscapes of British Columbia some being described by Robert Fulford in 1961 as follows, “He has turned to the coast forests and beaches, the forms of trees, stumps and driftwood, as well as aspects of the city and its people. He concentrates as he says, on 'the passage of the seasons; the relation between the sea and the land; between nature and man-made forces; the process of life.'

By 1963 he had moved deeper into the realm of abstraction and his paintings were described by Joan Lowndes as follows, “Two new motifs are emerging: a tangle of underbrush, its vitality expressed by a sinuous black mesh that covers the entire canvas; and the relation of two forms. In “Encounter I” we see the latter close to nature; one felled tree, one erect, meeting in a tender rosy-mauve haze. “Encounter II” has become something quite different: belligerent personalities, both upright, whose clash generates flakes of orange light. This is an area full of dramatic possibilities which Jarvis is just beginning to explore.”

Jarvis was appointed Instructor in Drawing and Painting at the Vancouver School of Art in 1951 and became Head of that department; received a Canada Council Senior Arts Fellowship in 1961; exhibited in the National Gallery of Canada Biennials 1955, 57, 59, 61, 63; Lugano, Switzerland, 1956; Inter-American Exhibition of Painting and Graphic Art, Mexico, 1958 and others; one-man shows: Vancouver Art Gallery 1949, 1955; UBC Fine Arts Gallery 1949; Victoria Art Gallery 1955; New Design Gallery, Vancouver, 1958, 1962. He is represented in the following public collections: Vancouver Art Gallery; Victoria Art Gallery; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Victoria College; CIL Collection; The National Gallery of Canada; The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, and in many private collections. He was a member of the Canadian Group of Painters, the British Columbia Society of Artists, and the Royal Canadian Academy (ARCA, 1962).

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