Lot #208

Roy Kiyooka
Abstraction (Emma Lake)

watercolour
signed, dated 1958 and inscribed “Emma Lake” lower right
20 x 26.75 ins ( 50.8 x 67.9 cms ) ( sheet )

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Price Realized: $3,840.00
Provenance:
Private Collection, Toronto

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Roy Kiyooka
(1926 - 1994)

Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Roy Kiyooka studied painting at the Provincial Institiute of Technology and Art, Calgary, 1946-49 under J.W.G. MacDonald and I.H. Kerr; at the Instituto Allendo, Mexico (on scholarship), 1955, where he studied with James Pinto; at the Universty of Saskatchewan Emma Lake Workshops with Barnett Newman and others. During his study he received a Diploma in Fine Arts at the Institute of Technology and Art, Calgary, 1949. His early work was representational and in 1950 he was winner of the O’Keefe scholarship. In 1952 he exhibited his work with three other artists Gregory Arnold, George Mihalcheon, and Ronald Spickett. Viewing this four man show Leonare Crawford of “The London Free Press” noted, “Roy Kiyooka has used palette knife and varnish effectively in several canvases. ‘House by Night’ has interesting greens and reds contrasted to give excellent comparison of the dreary cold of outside and the warmth and brightness of within. ‘They Also Lived Here,’ says something old satisfactorily and ‘Fisherman’ is a powerful study, replete with symbolism…”

By 1954 a change in his work was noted by Dr. R. W. Hedley in “The Edmonton Journal” “a visit to the Arts building of the University of Alberta to see the 19 pictures by Roy K. Kiyooka. The pictures range from the realistic style to the abstract, with a wide choice of subjects, and in a wide range in styles of expression. Some are very good and some are not so good. One fact stands out prominently, when he wishes to do so he can paint and paint well. He is a young man and is evidently exploring many styles and techniques…and knows how to handle paint well… Probably in time he will settle on one style which he finds is particularly appropriate to express himself. He should go far as an artist.” He was now instructing at the Provincial Institute of Technology, Calgary, evenings while days he worked as a display artist with a local firm. Later he became an advertising manager for a supermarket firm in Nelson, B.C. It was then that he won a scholarship at the Institute San Miguel d’Allende in Mexico City.

In 1955 his “The City” (an oil on Masonite) was accepted in the First Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Painting and was reproduced in the exhibition catalogue. It was acquired by the National Gallery and reproduced in the Gallery’s catalogue of Canadian paintings. In 1956 he became full-time instructor at the Regina College of Art; at night he taught there as well. Also that year his exhibition with Maxwell Bates, Janet Mitchell, Roy Stevenson took place at the Norman Mackensize art gallery. His work was selected for the Walker Biennial exhibition in Minneapolis in 1958. He also held a one man show of 21 watercolours at the Norman Mackenzie art gallery and achieved success at the Winnipeg Show where he won a prize. These are only a few of his activities. Many one man shows followed; he held ten one man shows before 1957. In 1964 he exhibited with his brother artist Harry, at the Alberta College of Art, Calgary, when “The Albertan” noted, “Though the Kiyooka brothers have shown widely on an individual basis throughout North America this exhibition represents the first time their works have been shown together.”

It was in 1964 that Roy Kiyooka received a senior art fellowship from the Canada Council and took a year’s leave of absence from the Vancouver School of Art where he has been teaching since 1960. He began his ‘oval series’ of paintings. Described by the “Western Homes & Living” as follows, “These are pure forms belonging to the world of art alone, but their inspiration can be traced to such prosaic sources as a neon sign through the slats of bamboo blind, the moving pattern of shadows on his studio floor, or an oval panel of bevelled plate glass in an old West End door. All these things, and other aspects of modern urban life, hold a continuous fascination for Roy Kiyooka as he moves about the city or sits in his studio. ‘Art is uniquely human experience; everything is possible and nothing is forbidden – in art,’ he explains. His uniquely personal expression of visual experience is producing some of his most stimulating art in Canada.” At the close of 1964 he held a one man show of his paintings at The New Design Gallery. The year 1965 was an important year of achievement with his honourable mention award at the Eighth Biennial Exhibition at Sao Paulo, Brazil. He had also joined the staff of Sir George Williams University and held a one man show at Galerie du Siècle.

In 1966 he was awarded a thousand dollars for his painting “Green Connecting” at the Winnipeg Show, also in 1966 an exhibition of his paintings took place at the Laing Galleries in Toronto. His visit to Vancouver in 1967 brought forth an extensive article by Joan Lowndes in “The Province” which revealed Vancouver artists Michael Morris, Brian Fisher, Bodo Pfeifer, Claude Breeze, Jane Adams and Brent Gifford had studied under him at one time or another.

A mosaic muralist as well, he designed and executed commissions of the First Presbyterian Church, Regina, and the Biology Building of the University of Saskatchewan. He has also written two books of poems, “Kyoto Airs and Nevertheless These Eyes.” He is represented in the following public collections: University of Victoria’ University of British Columbia; National Gallery of Canada; the Saskatchewan Arts Board; the Calgary Allied Art Centre; the Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina; Vancouver Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Ontario; Victoria Art Gallery; University of Alabama and in the private collections of Samuel Zacks, Joseph Hirshhorn and many others. He has also exhibited his work at the David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto, and R.C.A. shows.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 3: Jacobi-Lismer", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1979