(Ottawa 1926 – Ottawa 2006)
Enamel on Masonite
121.9 x 182.9 cm
Gift of Mackenzie Art Gallery Society
MacKenzie Art Gallery, 1962-1
© Estate of Kenneth Lochhead / CARCC (2018).
Photo: Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
The use of enamel and Masonite to make Chevron Blue was not coincidental. The contrasting properties of these materials – the irregularities of the hardboard and the smoothness of the enamel – allowed Kenneth Lochhead to experiment with textures, an interest he shared with the other Regina Five artists. In Chevron Blue, Lochhead’s gestural abstraction has become more structured, and the use of a rich deep blue foretells the exploration of colour he pursued in the following years. This painting is a prime example of the work that attracted international attention to the practices emerging on the Prairies in the early 1960s.
As the director of the Regina College School of Art, Kenneth Lochhead played a major role in fostering a dynamic art scene on the Prairies in the 1950s and 60s. His most significant initiative was to bring in major artists and art critics to lead the summertime Emma Lake Artists’ Workshops. Lochhead’s own practice saw a series of changes in just a few years, evolving from figurative representation to gestural abstraction to colour field painting. During his long career, he explored many different styles and techniques and taught at several Canadian universities.
MACKENZIE ART GALLERY
3475 Albert Street
Regina (Saskatchewan), S4S 6X6
In 1962, the influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg (1909-1994) was invited at the Emma Lake Artists’ Workshops. A champion of American abstract painting, Greenberg promoted the Modernist belief that each artistic discipline should adhere to its own properties and conventions regardless of subject matter. Thus, in painting, only the flat surface of the canvas counted. Greenberg’s visit to Regina profoundly influenced Kenneth Lochhead, as evident in a comparison of Chevron Blue (1962) and Grey Square (1963). The later composition is simplified and the exploration of texture has given way to the fields of flat colour that would characterize the painter’s work for the next decade.