Located in the elevator lobby, Dr. Archer Library 3rd floor
Song from a Perfumed Garden / green leap left, 1965
Acrylic on canvas
55″ x 79″
University of Regina President’s Art Collection, Shumiatcher donation. Gift of Dr. Morris C. Shumiatcher, O.C., S.O.M., Q.C. and Dr. Jacqui Clay Shumiatcher, S.O.M., C.M., 2015; sc.2015.92
It was during his term as Curator at the Dunlop Art Gallery from 1963 to 1968 that Bruce Parsons produced a series of dynamic abstracts that caught the attention of the artworld. The Montréal-born artist had studied at the Ontario College of Art, at a time in which the radical work of the New York Abstract Expressionists were highly regarded. His participation in the Emma Lake workshops in Saskatchewan later provided inspiration from visiting artists such as Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella. Whilst influenced by the abstract turn and modernist formalism, Parson’s work deviated from a strict adherence to it. Song from a Perfumed Garden/ green leap left (1965) demonstrates an affinity with the colour field painting popular at the time, a painterly interest that Parsons would later dismiss.
Song From a Perfumed Garden/ green leap left and Hot Alors/ big red sky (1965) (displayed on the Archer Library fourth floor) were both produced during Parsons’ time in Regina, prior to his move to Toronto. The work from this period features vibrant expanses of stained colour, over which lively abstracted floral shapes hover. The flower motifs began life as a series of works on paper during his residency at the 1964 Emma Lake workshop. It was here that Olitski commended the “freshness” of these designs, encouraging him to produce these large-scale canvases. Such early works went on to develop into more geometric colour field paintings in the late sixties, with particular focus on squares, rectangles and stripes. Of these works, Parsons noted, “I have tried to produce the conditions that allow colour to sing in various ways”.