Influential artist and educator Ron Shuebrook is best known as an abstract painter who aligns his work with American late Modernist tendencies. In Shuebrook’s work, “late Modernism” means adherence to the principles of formalist aesthetics, compositional refinement and exploration of the properties of his materials. For this artist there is no practical distinction to be made between drawing and painting: as he notes “drawing and painting are both about working with a certain material.”
Shuebrook’s career spans almost half a century of distinguished creative practice. He has influenced nearly two generations of important Canadian artists, while remaining steadfastly committed to a deeply held set of Modernist and humanistic values. Historically, exhibitions and critical discussions of his work have tended to concentrate on his paintings and often overlook or even dismiss an equally notable drawing practice, viewing this significant body of work as tangential to the larger critical and aesthetic trajectory. Drawing has much to teach viewers about process. The geometric figures in black compressed charcoal interlock in dynamic tension, generating graphic elegance from the visibly erased and reworked remnants of false starts and new decisions. This exhibition seeks to problematize this traditional reading of Shuebrook’s practice by asserting the centrality and continued influence of his drawing to contemporary artists today.
As Shuebrook states, “I am still pulled to drawing’s fundamental nature… it is essential, fundamental and basic.” Representing over 30 years of production by the artist, this is the first retrospective survey of drawings by Ron Shuebrook.