JEAN McEWEN (Estate), 1923-1999


The issue of colour brings us to the matter of McEwen's relationship to the work of Claude Monet, with whom I believe he had much in common. Claude Monet was fascinated with snow and then with the water lilies at his place in Giverny. McEwen was, like Monet, an emotional painter, not an illustrator. There is between them both an idea that can be spun out as a metaphorical statement, or read as a deeply poetic image, that needs considerable thought to extract a meaning.


David Silcox
- from the catalogue McEwen, Mira Godard Gallery, 2020

McEwen [1923-1999]... hit his stride during the decisive years of 1955 and 1956. He was self-taught, spurred on by books on modern artists, rather than pursuing formal art school study.


McEwen had a work accepted for the "Annual Spring Exhibition" at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1949, Guy Viau, one of the jurors that year, recommended that he show his work to Borduas. McEwen recalled that the advice he received form the older artist was helpful and positive, but he was less interested in what Borduas had to say about subject matter and Surrealist theories than in what Borduas could teach him about craft. Although McEewen was at this time painting still-lifes and landscape, he gradually adopted Borduas's style. His first solo show, at Galerie Agnès Lefort/ [predecessor to Mira Godard Gallery] in 1951, was received enthusiastically in "La Presse", whose anonymous reviewer encouraged McEwen "to travel to the fountainhead of European paintings and profit from the artistic atmosphere of the French capital." (28)


-Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada, 2007