Artwork by Ivan Kenneth Eyre,  Amber Pass

Ivan Eyre
Amber Pass

oil on canvas
signed lower left; signed, titled (twice) and dated 1992 on the reverse
46 x 49.75 ins ( 116.8 x 126.4 cms )

Auction Estimate: $120,000.00$80,000.00 - $120,000.00

Price Realized $228,000.00
Sale date: June 9th 2021

Collection of the artist
Wallace Galleries, Calgary (1995)
Private Collection, Calgary
Pavillion Gallery, Ivan Eyre: The Paintings, Assiniboine Park, 2004, pages 18-19 and 254
Denis Cooley, Amy Karlinsky and Mary Reid, Figure Ground: The Paintings and Drawings of Ivan Eyre, Winnipeg, 2005, page 19
Born in Tullymet, Saskatchewan in 1935, and completing his university studies at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Manitoba, the artist was heavily influenced by the Canadian prairie landscape. In 1969, Eyre began renting a large room in the old warehouse district of Winnipeg. The view of the western city sky through the large windows of his studio became a vital component in many of his compositions. The practice of landscape painting has continued throughout the artist’s career with the Saskatchewan and Manitoba setting figuring prominently as works of imagination, an ode to the artist’s personal history. Eyre comments on the landscape genre of painting: “The subject is inexhaustible. Infinite possibilities exist. It’s still possible to make of a landscape a very personal statement, even a radical one, different from anything previous.”

“Amber Pass” is a prime example of one of Eyre’s later large-scale landscapes. It displays a vast view of a mountainous trail, while maintaining a strong attention to fine details. Each branch of the shrubbery is painstakingly depicted throughout the canvas. Art historian Pat Bovey comments on this quality of Eyre’s landscapes, stating: “Eyre’s keen sense of composition has enabled him to treat in the same work both the macro space of the prairie and the micro-detail of the grasses, leaves, trees and individuals in that expanse. Some details are magnified, others reduced in size.” Interestingly, Eyre notes that these landscapes are never done on location and does not proclaim the scenes or even perspectives to be realistic. “Amber Pass” and his other lush landscapes of riverbanks, fields and mountains are instead generated to induce associations of home and familiarity.

In this masterwork, Eyre draws us into the composition, along the winding path up into the snow-covered mountains in the distance. The painting has an engrossing effect on the viewer; Eyre achieves this by including multiple perspectives, guiding the eye to various points in the upper portion of the landscape. Author Nancy Hermann speaks to this strategy of Eyre’s, and describes the viewer’s immersive experience with large landscapes such as “Amber Pass”: “The artist offers no single ledge on which the observer may stand and fully take in all aspects of a work. The viewer must enter into a painting’s theatre by travelling across it and into it, and thus interact with the work, rather than studying it from a fixed distance.”

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Ivan Kenneth Eyre
(1935 - 2022) RCA

Ivan Kenneth Eyre was born in Tullymet, Saskatchewan in 1935. At the Saskatoon Technical Collegiate he studied under Ernest Lindner, followed by studies at the University of Saskatchewan under Eli Bornstein in 1952. At the University of Manitoba School of Art, he studied under several notable teachers graduating in 1957 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In 1958-59 he attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks where he also taught. Upon returning to Canada, he took a teaching job at the University of Manitoba where he was appointed Full Professor (of painting and drawing) and where he stayed until his retirement in 1993. In 1966-67, he travelled in England and Europe where he was able to sell many of his paintings to private collectors. His works were inspired by the Symbolist philosophy of following subjective recollection and reaction rather than the Realist-Impressionist technique of objective observation-based painting. He is very much part of the artistic scene of the Prairies where he has lived most of his life. Eyre is also known for his graphite, crayon studies, and woodcuts. Among his many honours, he was elected member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1974, received the Queen's Silver Jubilee medal in 1977, the University of Manitoba Alumni Jubilee Award in 1982, and was the subject of several films and books. He has held solo exhibitions from 1962 to the present and participated in many group shows. His works hang in numerous private and public collections in Canada and abroad. Winnipeg is the home to the Pavilion Gallery which houses the largest permanent of Eyre's paintings representing 170 works on canvas and over 5000 drawings. Ivan Eyre lived and worked in Winnipeg, Manitoba.