McEwen, Jean Albert
Jean McEwen was born in Montreal and studied to become a pharmacist until the acceptance of some of his paintings into the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Annual Spring Exhibition in 1949 encouraged him to become a full-time artist. McEwen's work attracted the attention of Paul-Émile Borduas who advised him to study in Paris. There McEwen met Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle. However, it was American painter Sam Francis who influenced his move toward monochrome abstraction. McEwen's work can be associated with the colourfield painting of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, but he is distinguished by the way he uses built up layers of colour to achieve texture and depth. In 1955 McEwen introduced margins into his work, as we see in Untitled of 1960, to create a tension between the edge and the centre, and to further accentuate the levels of colour. Jean McEwen continued to explore the possibilities of abstraction until his death in 1999.