Whilst visiting the January 1962 Borduas retrospective at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Paterson Ewen was clearly impressed by the artist’s later works, principally his black-and-white and monochrome paintings. Curiously, in 1961 he had painted two series of canvases, Black-out and Alerts, which had a lot in common with the 1960s Borduas monochromes. Ewen’s inspiration came from observing the night sky and its blinking stars. He painted some more monochrome canvases, with a strong Automatiste influence, in 1962 and 1963. Executed with palette knife and trowel, these works had very dynamic, richly textured surfaces. In 1963 and 1964, Ewen took part in three group exhibitions organized by Aubert Brillant, owner and director of Montreal’s Galerie du Siècle, two in Montreal and one in Oklahoma. Untitled was first shown at one of these events.
Untitled is a remarkable example of the paintings of that exceptional period that gave us the most accomplished works of the so-called “Montreal Years.” Its obvious reference to outer space and the cosmos will be clearly recurrent throughout Ewen’s career.
Paterson Ewen was born in Montreal in 1925. In 1949, he married Françoise Sullivan, a multidisciplinary artist who had signed the Refus Global manifesto a year earlier. He became friends with some of the Automatist painters, including Riopelle, Borduas, Barbeau, and Mousseau. In 1968, he moved to London, Ontario, where he lived and worked until his death in 2002.