Artwork by Gershon Iskowitz,  Deep Red #7

Gershon Iskowitz
Deep Red #7

oil on canvas
signed, titled and dated 1977 on the reverse
38 x 42 ins ( 96.5 x 106.7 cms )

Auction Estimate: $25,000.00$20,000.00 - $25,000.00

Price Realized $38,400.00
Sale date: June 8th 2023

Gallery Moos, Toronto (Sold October 1983)
Private Collection, Toronto
Ihor Holubizky, “Gershon Iskowitz: Life & Work” [online publication], Art Canada Institute, Toronto, 2019, pages 64 and 77
Through the 1960s, the paintings of Gershon Iskowitz moved steadily towards abstraction. Achieving what would be become his mature style around 1967, Iskowitz continued exploring this aesthetic throughout the 1970s with commitment and focus. Always an expert colourist, he employed delicate shifts in hue to create works which buzz and shimmer with a playful energy. Critic Art Perry observed: “An Iskowitz red is dissimilar to any other red. It is a hyper-red, a supersaturating red, an individually and sensually encompassing red... Through a subtle juxtaposition of catalyst colour dots and his mottled colour-fields, Iskowitz not only controls but activates the whole painted surface [to] make it vibrate at a higher intensity: Iskowitz is probably Canada’s finest colour engineer.”

“Deep Red #7” has a strong musical quality with intervals of high-key colour which form a visual rhythm. The mottled red areas float gently across the surface, as in an aerial view of the land through parted clouds. The carefully constructed layering of colours creates an illusion of pictorial depth. In a 1975 interview, Iskowitz explained: “... It’s a whole realistic world. It lives, moves... I see those things... the experience, out in the field, of looking up in the trees or in the sky, of looking down from the height of a helicopter. So what you do is try to make a composition of all those things, make some kind of reality: like the trees should belong to the sky, and the ground should belong to the trees, and the ground should belong to the sky. Everything has to be united.”

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Gershon Iskowitz
(1919 - 1988) RCA

Born in Kielce, Poland, in 1919, Gershon Iskowitz immigrated to Canada in 1948 after surviving two Nazi concentration camps (Auschwitz labour camp in Poland and later Buchenwald, near Weimar, Germany). As a child, Iskowitz had an aptitude for art. He created advertisements for his local movie theatre in a section of his family’s living room that his father portioned off to create a small studio.

Following the Nazi occupation of Poland, Iskowitz was placed in the Kielce Ghetto. Once liquidated, Iskowitz was imprisoned in concentration camps in Poland and Germany. While he continued to make drawings during this period only two survive: Condemned (1944-46) and Buchenwald (1944-45). Upon liberation, he lived in the Feldafing Displaced Persons Camp and audited courses at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.

Upon receiving a temporary travel document from the Military Government for Germany, issued to stateless people, Iskowitz traveled to Canada via the United States in 1948 where his extended family greeted him at Union Station in Toronto. Until 1954, Iskowitz’s paintings focused on memories from his imprisonment. In the same year, he was included in the Canadian Society of Graphic Art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) alongside Painters Eleven artist Oscar Cahén.

By the 1960s Iskowitz’s style transformed from gestural to abstract. He became interested in exploring the Canadian landscape rather than his wartime memories during this period. After exhibiting at Gallery Moos in October 1964, for the first time, Iskowitz formed a close relationship with the owner, Walter Moos. Moos managed Iskowitz’s career and finances from this point forward. After receiving a Canada Council grant in 1967 he flew to Churchill, Manitoba. Entranced by aerial views he saw while in flight, Iskowitz began incorporating this perspective into his art.

Iskowitz was selected to represent Canada alongside Walter Redinger at the Venice Biennale in 1972 where he displayed four of these areal diptychs. In 1982, the AGO put on a retrospective exhibition of Iskowitz’s life work. After the retrospective exhibition had concluded, Iskowitz set up a foundation that would provide financial support to artists through an annual monetary prize, with assistance from Moos.

Literature Source: Ihor Holubizky, Gershon Iskowitz: Life and Work. Toronto: Art Canada Institute, 2018 (

We extend our thanks to Danie Klein, York University graduate student in art history, for writing and contributing this artist biography.