In the fall of 1955, Painters Eleven member Jock Macdonald wrote to a friend that he had recently moved to a first floor apartment at 4 Maple Avenue in Toronto. Here he would meet young art dealer Av Isaacs, who lived on the second floor of the house, and artist Michael J. Kuczer, who lived on the third floor. Kuczer and Macdonald would spend time together for the next five years, until the latter’s death in 1960, discussing each other’s painting and arguing about art. The influence that the men had on each other’s work is obvious.
Born in Winnipeg in 1910, Kuczer began to both paint and play the violin at the young age of seven, and as a high school student, enrolled in the Winnipeg School of Art where he was taught by LeMoine Fitzgerald. Of his meeting with Fitzgerald, he would state: “[he] led me into the world of art as none other could possibly have done.”
Despite receiving a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, Kuczer would pursue his music studies, also with a scholarship, at the Royal College of Music in London. During the twenty-year period that he lived in England he always painted, mostly landscapes, portraits and nudes, until taking a drawing course at St. John’s Wood School of Art where one of his fellow students introduced him to abstract art. Kuczer returned to Canada in 1949 and taught music and painting. The friendship he formed with Macdonald a few years later was, as he writes: “stimulating and in turn affected my work.”
The paintings in this exhibition, completed between 1955 and 1965, use a rich and varied palette and often, a central element. These lyrically abstract works were a move away from the artist’s earlier, more cubist abstract works and a subtle move towards the hard edge paintings that would occupy him until his death in 1975.
Of his work as a painter, Michael Kuczer said: “My greatest desire is to express as well as possible the inspiration that first prompts a painting.”
We thank Marilyn Westlake for her generosity in lending us the work in this exhibition.