Artwork by Ivan Kenneth Eyre,  Man on the Bridge

Ivan Eyre
Man on the Bridge

oil on canvas
signed lower right; titled and dated 1963 on a gallery label on the reverse
26 x 34 ins ( 66 x 86.4 cms )

Auction Estimate: $20,000.00$15,000.00 - $20,000.00

Price Realized $14,400.00
Sale date: June 8th 2023

Lillian Adamson, Winnipeg
Private Collection, Winnipeg
“Ivan Eyre: Personal Mythologies”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, travelling to Winnipeg Art Gallery; Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary; The Edmonton Art Gallery; London Regional Art Gallery, 28 September 1988‒21 January 1990, no. 5
Terrence Heath, “Ivan Eyre: Personal Mythologies”, Winnipeg, 1988, no. 5, reproduced page 33
Donalda Johnson, “Eyre With Honour”, Winnipeg, 1994, page 8
“Ivan Eyre: The Paintings”, Assiniboine Park, 2004, pages 18-19
Denis Cooley, Amy Karlinsky and Mary Reid, “Figure Ground: The Paintings and Drawings of Ivan Eyre”, Winnipeg, 2005, pages 17-18
Ivan Eyre remembers that around 1960–1962, “I began to reevaluate my work and decided to begin afresh....I worked at ridding myself of all influences.” Drawing mostly on memory and dream imagery, Eyre created many surreal, post-apocalyptic scenes in the early 1960s, including “Man on the Bridge”. Dating to 1963, the oil on canvas depicts a view across a river that is connected by a bridge. While we can recognize a figure standing on the bridge and a glimpse of another person in the foreground, most of what is on the far side of the water is only somewhat discernible to the eye, as the forms are heavily stylized and tightly arranged. Upon a very close inspection, we are able to identify a boat, another figure, some trees and a building, but much remains a mystery. The artist’s commitment to engaging the viewer is evident here; he brings us on “an active journey through his work by creating paths of movement.” Eyre creates pathways for the eyes through his marvelous pointed shapes which twist and overlap within the landscape. This realm of unidentifiable figuration, yet separate from abstraction, is a unique and intriguing characteristic of Eyre’s work. Eyre created over one hundred canvases in this dream-like style in the early 1960s, though many of the works ended up being destroyed by the artist.

Ivan Eyre was heavily influenced by the Canadian prairie landscape, commenting 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.”

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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.