Return of the Image
Throughout the 20th century many of the most noted and influential artists alternated between pursuing stylistic innovations and periods of embrace of tradition, a fluctuation between modern abstraction and representation.
The period of the 1960s through the early 1970s could be characterized as a time when there was a greater consensus and adherence to what was termed international style abstraction. Nearly every artist of consequence was making abstraction; meanwhile public art museums worldwide were dedicated to presenting these ideas practically to the exclusion of all else. By 1974-75 numbers of key abstract artists reversed direction to tentatively re-introduce discernible ‘imagery’. Rather than revert to traditional realism they employed stylized and abstracted signs and silhouettes, often as outline shapes placed directly in the middle of a work. The tendency was referred to as New Image Painting. In this exhibition this movement is represented by works by Canadian artists: Renee van Halm, Billy McCarroll, Paul Fournier and David Bolduc; there were many others. Van Halm and McCarroll progressed through to narrative representation while others by 2000 began to return to the fold of abstraction. It is an ongoing, perpetual dialogue.