Artwork by Frank Leonard Brooks,  Mexican Window
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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

Frank Leonard Brooks
Mexican Window

oil on canvas
signed and titled on the stretcher
18 x 29 ins ( 45.7 x 73.7 cms )

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Provenance:
Private Collection, Quebec
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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703


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Frank Leonard Brooks
(1911 - 2011) RCA

Born at Enfield, London, England, he came to Canada with his parents who settled in Toronto. He received his early art training at the Toronto Central Technical School at nights for one year, also at the Ontario College of Art for six months, and under Frank Johnston in 1929. He travelled and painted in England, France, Spain, and in the United States at Woodstock, New York. On his return to Canada he settled in Toronto for a time where he taught drawing, painting, and graphic art at the Northern Vocational School.

Active in art circles, he participated in most of the major exhibitions in Canada, and in the United States exhibited in the Canadian Section at the World’s Fair in 1936. He started a project of painting activities on the Great Lakes about 1939 moving about the various docks and on the many ships that arrived and departed from the Great Lake ports. When the Second World War was under way he left this project and his teaching post to enlist in the Royal Canadian Navy as an Able Seaman. He served on Minesweepers, Motor Torpedo Boats, and on the aircraft carrier “Puncher”. He was promoted to Petty Officer, then Sub-Lieutenant, and finally Lieutenant. He was appointed an official war artist in 1944 and returned to Canada in 1945.

After his discharge he moved to Mexico in 1947 with his wife a photographer, where they travelled widely in that country. He studied under David Alfar Siqueiros, a leader among elder experimentalists, while his wife Reva Brooks took and interesting series of photographs. Both their impressions of Mexico appeared in Canadian Art in the Spring of 1950. Critic Rose MacDonald in her column for the Toronto Evening Telegram wrote the following, “Like Squeiros he paints in the abstract only as an exercise with a view to clarification, believing that this is the purpose of abstract painting . . .” Leonard and Reva Brooks held a joint exhibition of their works in a number of centres including the Fine Art Galleries of Eaton’s in Toronto in 1949. A. S. Cowie art dealer rendered the following for a Brooks exhibition catalogue “His watercolours of these Mexican sights are vigorous, skillfully composed, colorful, and airy. The people are pictured going about their business, not merely posing in costume for the tourist. One feels that the artist is delighted by what he sees, that he has an inexhaustible fund of compositions and never repeats himself; that each picture, in a word, is an experience.” The late Pearl McCarthy in 1954 had this to say, “He has avoided being trapped by his own or anybody else’s mannerisms on the whole, and has continuously sought an engagement between his own feelings and what natural sights the world has to present for our endless wonder.”

His style might be described as a combination between realism and impressionism but very individualistic. His media included oils, watercolours, casein, duco and polymer. He wrote a number of books on painting techniques. He is represented in the permanent collections of The National Gallery of Canada; Art Gallery of Ontario; London Art Gallery, Ontario and in many private collections in Canada, Mexico and the United States. He lived at Downsview, Toronto and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

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