BY FRANCES THOMAS
Part Time Coordinator and Curator Art@RVH
The creative impulse is incredibly strong, so strong in fact it can overcome formidable obstacles. In 1996 John Gould suffered a stroke that affected the right side of his body and his life as a renowned Canadian artist changed forever. The stroke stripped him of the ability to speak, write and draw, although surprisingly his abilities as a jazz clarinetist were unaffected. He still had the desire to express himself through art and worked at it daily. As a result of intense therapy during his recovery at RVH, along with guidance from his wife Ingi, Gould learned how to draw again. Starting almost from scratch his early attempts showed figures without some of their body parts, or body parts in the wrong places. Through long practice and encouragement he went on to create some of his most powerful artwork.
You will see two kinds of mastery in this exhibition. Gould’s early drawings are largely expressionist, but refined, with the forms predominantly created through dense parallel and intersecting marks known as cross-hatching. These are in contrast to his later more technically simplified but vividly coloured drawings, exquisite evidence of an expressively intense final period to his work.
John Gould Bio
John Gould was born in Toronto on August 14th, 1929. He attended the Ontario College of Art from 1948 to 1952. He took part in his first group exhibition at Greenwich (Isaacs) Gallery in Toronto and, in 1960, won the Elizabeth T. Greenshield’s Fellowship for figurative painting. During the early 1960’s he would participate in large exhibitions at University of Toronto’s Hart House and a group exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) in 1965. That same year, he began exhibiting at Roberts Gallery in Toronto where he would go on to be represented for more than 40 years. Drawings displayed at Roberts Gallery produced on a 1969 trip to Japan were viewed by famed mime Marcel Marceau, resulting in Marceau’s commissioning Gould to draw him during his performances in New York in the spring of 1970.
Around 1970 Gould and his wife Ingi moved to Waubaushene, Ontario, where he began to undertake the most complex and ambitious drawings of his career. The “Ancestor Series”, large-scale drawings made up of autobiographical elements, dream imagery and references from film history and literature, were to be some of the most expressive and technically masterful work he was to produce. After his stroke in 1996 Gould embarked on the next great period of his artistic life and continued to exhibit his artwork. In 2013 Roberts Gallery launched a very successful show of Gould’s work and there are plans for further exhibitions that will continue to profile Gould and his artistic legacy. We are very proud to be able to exhibit this small example of that legacy.
In 2007 John had a massive stroke at home, one that did end his ability to make art. He was eventually moved to a nursing home. He passed away in Barrie, Ontario in January of 2010.