James (Jock) Williamson Galloway Macdonald 1897 - 1960
- James (Jock) Williamson Galloway Macdonald
- Zero Flame
- signed and dated '56 lower left; signed and titled on the stretcher
oil on canvas
Estate of the Artist, Toronto
Mrs Barbara E. Macdonald, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Jock Macdonald, One Man Exhibition, Hart House, University of Toronto, November - December, 1957, no. 19
Jock Macdonald, The Park Gallery, Toronto, 21 April - 3 May, 1958, no. 17
Jock Macdonald: Retrospective Exhibition, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1969 - 1970, no. 20
After Hortense Gordon, Jock Macdonald was the oldest member of Painters Eleven. He was also, perhaps, the most accomplished and experimental member of them all. He was interested in a vast range of artistic expressions, had tried automatic drawing and painting, been one of the first in Canada to paint abstract work (1934) and, like Lawren Harris, he had an intense interest in spiritual matters: Indian mysticism, the writings of Ouspensky, the spirit masks of the Haida, and transcendentalism. Surrealism was a form of expression with a particular appeal.
After many years in British Columbia, where Fred Varley was a fast friend and a colleague at the Vancouver School of Art, he travelled into the United States, and then settled in Toronto as a teacher at the Ontario College of Art in 1947. When Painters Eleven was formed, he was already a respected figure in the intimate society of the Toronto art world.
Macdonald's paintings all have a compelling quality, but the work he did late in his life has a kind of airy freshness and grandeur that surpasses his early trials. This modestly sized canvas has both the ease and the vitality of his later work, as if he was still exploring and discovering, but doing so without exertion. As indeed he was.