Artwork by Harold Barling Town,  Through Utrillo’s Garden

Harold Town
Through Utrillo’s Garden

oil on board
signed and dated 1954 lower left; titled on the reverse and signed on the reverse of the frame
13 x 13 ins ( 33 x 33 cms )

Auction Estimate: $9,000.00$7,000.00 - $9,000.00

Price Realized $10,800.00
Sale date: June 9th 2021

Gerald Gorce, Toronto
Private Collection, Calgary
Private Collection, Toronto
Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada, Vancouver/Toronto, 2007, page 103
Painted when Canada was on the cusp of its own Abstract Expressionist movement, “Through Utrillo’s Garden” reflects the obvious influences of the modernist art movement happening in New York, and globally. Harold Town, and the artists that would be known as the Painters Eleven, were surrounded by abstraction - Post-War British Modernism was at its height in England, the Automatistes in Quebec had released their Manifesto, “Refus Global” in 1948, while the New York Abstract Expressionist movement, championed by the influential critic Clement Greenberg, was being embraced by dealers and collectors.

Painted shortly after the founding of Painters Eleven, when the artist was experimenting with his single autograph prints, Town has employed an aggressive all-over brushwork in this early work, reflective of the paintings of Arshile Gorky and the use of soft, organic forms by Willem DeKooning. Roald Nasgaard in “Abstract Painting in Canada” draws an even closer comparison between Town’s work and that of British modernist Peter Lanyon, “... sharing with Town a penchant for fleshy paints and black outlines...juxtaposed with dense clusters of busy calligraphy, internally scored and textured, so as not leave any surface unarticulated and inexpressive”. The intermingling of black lines with broad brushstrokes and soft rounded shapes creates a play between the representational and the abstract, which would become characteristic of Town’s paintings in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Harold Barling Town
(1924 - 1990) Painters Eleven, OSA, RCA

Born in 1924, Harold Town lived most of his life in Toronto. He studied at both Central Technical School and the Ontario College of Art and, upon graduating in 1945, became an accomplished illustrator for advertising agencies and magazines such as Macleans and Mayfair. Town was a founder and member of the Painters Eleven, a group of Toronto abstract artists that exhibited together during the 1950s.