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"A Little Colour Rain"
Ted Godwin, "A Little Colour Rain," 1959, oil on Masonite, 46" X 41". Private collection.
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"The Cosmic Potato Bug Machine"
Ted Godwin, "The Cosmic Potato Bug Machine," 1962, oil on canvas, 54" X 66". Collection of the artist.
TED GODWIN, The Regina Five Years 1958 – 1968
Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary
September 26 to November 7, 2008
By Dina O'Meara
“I like to think of the early years as thesis,” Ted Godwin says. “The late 1950s and mid 1960s were times of big dreams and breaking temples.” That feeling is directly reflected in this work, a collection of paintings Godwin did between 1958 and 1968 — they shout with the exuberance of a young man exploring new territory. The 50 paintings included in this exhibition are big and bold and hold the power of a classically trained artist flinging his knowledge of composition and form to the wind — and creating emotionally charged and beautifully executed abstract paintings.
The Regina Five Years takes the viewer back to those exhilarating days of social change, when five talented painters in Regina took international-style abstract art and made it uniquely western Canadian. Godwin, Ken Lochhead, Art McKay, Ron Bloore and Doug Morton challenged the concept that Canadian art was just about landscapes, lending new energy and vision to the national art scene.
“The work of the Regina Five blew Canadian art apart and made it new and exciting, and made Canada very much a leader in the art world,” says Nickle Arts Museum director Ann Davis. “Because they were able to explode the limits of western Canadian art, and the narrowness of landscapes of trees, rocks and water, they opened Canadian art to the international world and the limitless possibilities of painting. What Ted has done over 50 years was really to show younger, daring people it can be done.”
This exhibition traces Godwin’s oil paintings and drawings, and his stylistic changes through the decade preceding his so-called Tartan Years of the late 1960s and 1970s. The works were chosen from private and public collections across Canada, including Calgary’s Glenbow Museum, and include pieces such as Godwin’s piece Attack Red, which prompted staff at the Saskatchewan Power Corp Cafeteria, where it was first shown in 1962, to go on strike until it was removed.
“The wonderful thing about oil paintings is they look the worst the day they’re finished,” Godwin said, about revisiting his work. “I’m really looking forward to seeing these paintings because they’re much better than when I painted them.”
The 75-year-old painter retains a fundamental joy in life and creating that outruns the effects of recent heart surgery. It is reflected in Godwin’s small, playful landscapes and the large paintings of his beloved Elbow River. “Every time you make a painting, you go to the well and dig a little deeper,” he says. “I’ve been making paintings since the early 1950s, and I’m down so deep in the well that I’m never sure I’m going to get back out, and I’ve got to dig a little deeper each time. It doesn’t get easier. It never should, and if it does, I have a problem.”
Represented by: Wallace Galleries, Calgary; Mayberry Fine Art, Winnipeg; Assiniboia Gallery, Regina; Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver.