Before embarking on an analysis of the recent paintings, it is worth taking a look at the artists production since the retrospective exhibition of his work held at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from December 1987 to January 1988. The aim of this review of Jean McEwens artistic evolution is to establish the context within which the new works must be examined. For brevitys sake, I have selected only a few examples from each of the most important series of the past ten years. As well as providing evidence of the painters development, this exercise will allow us to fully appreciate the originality of the Barbarian Poems series, which resolutely transgresses the formal categories of American modernism.
ABOVE: The Legend of Yes and No, 1990, oil on canvas, 183x183 cm, Collection: Lorraine and Michel Lacerte.
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THE LEGEND OF YES AND NO, 1990
McEwen works independently. His production has never really resembled that of the American artists who influenced him at the outset. His personal vocabulary has been developed within an approach that is essentially painterly. Feeling little affinity for minimalism which he sees as highly reductionist he has never eradicated the affective element from his art.