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In Search of Form

In Search of Form

Abstraction in West Coast Canada
Artworks by Jack Shadbolt, Jack Wise, and Gordon Smith

Winchester Galleries is pleased to announce our upcoming exhibition, In Search of Form; Abstraction in West Coast Canada, artworks by Jack Shadbolt, Jack Wise, and Gordon Smith upon the arrival of spring. In Search of Form is a celebration of Canadian abstraction on the West Coast and the prominent artists who had a defining role in its creation.

Jack Wise (1928-1996)

Jack Wise was born in Iowa in 1928 and immigrated to Canada’s West Coast in 1963 after completing his art education at Washington University in St. Louis (BFA, 1953) and Florida State University (Master of Science in Art, 1955). Receiving a Canada Council Grant in 1966 allowed him to travel to northern India. While much of Wise’s work follows the criteria of abstract expressionism, his time with Tibetan Buddhist monks in India inspired Wise to incorporate spiritual elements in his art.

After returning to North America, Wise continued to paint, study, and teach. During the 70s and 80s, he taught at the University of California, the Victoria College of Art, and the Metchosin International Summer School of Arts. His works have been featured in numerous art exhibitions in Canada.

Wise is especially well-known for his colourful mandalas and his calligraphy based on Chinese brushwork techniques. Since Wise drew inspiration from the natural world and his own inward reflections, his works remain accessible to audiences despite their complexity and sophistication.

Jack Shadbolt (1909 - 1998)

Born in England in 1909, Shadbolt established himself as an artist and teacher in Vancouver in the 1930's. Though he found inspiration for his early works in the paintings of Emily Carr, the west coast landscape, the American Social Realists, and the Mexican muralists, he also had an early interest in the British Surrealist artists Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland. Travel to Europe in the late 1930s put him in touch with works by Cézanne and the School of Paris.

During his stay in New York in 1948-49, he studied the work of Picasso and primitivism, the European Surrealists, especially Joan Miro, and the American Abstract Expressionists. From these contacts, he developed a biomorphic Surrealism, a strong thread which links all phases of his career. In 1938, Shadbolt began to teach at the Vancouver School of Art, where he remained until his retirement in 1966. Since then he has received an honourary LL.D. from Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Victoria. He received the Order of Canada in 1972, and was made Freeman of the City of Vancouver in 1990. Along with his wife, Doris Shadbolt, he created VIVA (the Vancouver Institute for the Visual Arts) in 1988.

Gordon Smith (1919-2020)

English-born Canadian artist Gordon Smith contributed heavily to the contemporary art scene. Smith began his art education when he was still in secondary school in England. He continued his studies at the Winnipeg School of Art (1937-1940) after his family immigrated to Canada in 1933. He served in World War II first as a lieutenant, then as a Platoon Commander, and finally as an Intelligence Officer. Upon his return to Canada in 1944, the Vancouver Art Gallery featured his works in a solo exhibition of artworks he had created while overseas. In 1944, Smith also attended the Vancouver Art School, where he completed the fourth year of his art degree.

During his illustrious career as an artist, Smith won a plethora of awards and earned a number of prestigious titles. He received the Structure with Red Sun Award (1995), the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts (2007), and was named a laureate at the National Gallery of Canada (2009), just to name a few of his accolades. Today, Smith`s works are on display at many esteemed institutions such as the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, National Gallery of Canada, the Smithsonian Institute, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.


Jack Shadbolt
Summer Flight
Mixed media on paper collage
21 x 23.5 inches