Gershon Iskowitz, ‘Sky Blue #1’, 1971, Caviar20

It is somewhat hard to reconcile Gershon Iskowitz's (1921-1988) aesthetic with his personal history.

Born to a religious family in Poland, Iskowitz was allowed to leave Yeshiva (Jewish religious studies) in order to study art independently and later briefly at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. The outbreak of war forced him to return to his hometown where he was shortly after conscripted to force labor. In 1944 Iskowitz was transferred to Buchenwald, one of the first and most notorious Nazi concentration camps.

Upon liberation Iskowitz spent nearly 9 months in hospital recuperating. Amazingly he would study for six months at the Academy of Fine Art in Munich with Oskar Kokoschka.

Iskowitz would eventually immigrate to Canada. For most of the 1950's he incorporated representation into his art. By the 60's he had established a modest reputation and joined the Gallery Moos stable in 1964.

The legend goes that in 1967 thanks to a Canadian Council grant, Iskowitz took a helicopter tour of the north. The experience of seeing the massive expanse of trees from above inspired a major redirection of his aesthetic and approach.

This painting is a perfect example of Iskowitz's iconic style. Painted in 1971 it is from an important and fruitful period of the artist's life, just prior to the artist representing Canada at the Venice Biennale.

Many of Iskowitz's canvases are larger and often in a square format. This is a lovely sized and scaled work from the most desirable period of the artist's oeuvre.

Signature: Signed, titled and dated by the artist verso

The Art Gallery of Ontario Rental Program

About Gershon Iskowitz