For much of his career, Maxwell Bates balanced artistic pursuits with an architect’s job, in London, England, and in Calgary, but by the time he painted “Beach”, he had retired from architecture and moved to Victoria. Along with works by Carr, Varley, Jackson and Shadbolt, his images represent Western Canada in the Soloway collection. Bates’s work hovers between Realism and Expressionism (he studied under Max Beckmann for four months in New York in 1949). There is something inviting and, at the same time, unnerving about Beach, which was exhibited with the RCA in 1970. Bates said, in an oft-cited quote: “Unique, expressive statements interest me more than descriptive statements. I am more taken up by painting than by the subjects I paint.” “Beach” reveals an assured hand, with figures composed of multifaceted planes of colour and stripes. Under the harsh (almost photographic) light of high summer, the children are linked to one another through their postures. Their obscured faces, however, underscore individual absorption and lend mystery. The two-tone ball, a pure shape on the sand, is a Bates leitmotif.