the life and art of the shape shifter, Tony Urquhart

Tony Urquhart, My Garden with Rainbow, 1999,
oil on masonite, 31 in. x 31 in.,
signed and dated, titled verso.
Price: $14,500.00

Canada has lost one of its most talented visual artists this past January, our dear friend Tony Urquhart. Tony was a shape shifter, an image maker, always unconventional, he helped transform the way Canadians perceived landscape painting in the early 1960’s by re-shaping perspectives of the landscape using varied shaped supports for his paintings, including the tondos (circular paintings), as well as, the three dimensional format, including mixed media sculptures, well known to Canadian audiences as the “Box Sculptures”.  For Tony, there was no real definition of art, just ideas. Throughout his career Tony turned the conventional upside down, ultimately creating a beautiful and magical outpouring of work that defied logic over an outstanding career of 60 years.

My Garden with Rainbow, (reproduced above), by Tony Urquhart is a perfect example of the artist’s views on life and art. In this circular painting we find the artist sitting (bottom center) in a magical garden reveling in the glory of extraordinarily large trees and cliff like forms painted in fantastic summer garden hues of pinks, purples, blues, greens and yellows. Tony appears in his painting almost in a state of euphoria, with his notorious smile and his love for nature and gardens.  The natural world and gardens were of primary importance to Tony, the artist was perpetually driven to explore the ideas of growth, development, decay and regeneration in the natural world. It was Tony’s childhood in Niagara Falls, the large property and garden he grew up on, his grandmother Mayme being an avid gardener influenced Tony’s love and curiosity for nature.  Throughout his career Tony was the consummate artist, always working, always thinking about his creations, his life could not be separated from his art, and his artmaking could not be separated from his life. 

Video Portrait of the Artist at 82 years old:

Tony Urquhart leaves an incredible legacy of artworks to both Canadian and international art museums and private collections. Tony Urquhart’s artworks are held in collections around the world, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris among many others. The Art Gallery of Ontario has 27 of Urquhart’s works, including some working drawings. The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa boasts an impressive collection of Tony’s artwork.

James Rottman Fine Art carries a significant inventory of historical artworks by Tony Urquhart. Do not hesitate to contact us with inquiries regarding this artwork or other works by Tony Urquhart.