Ric Evans: Cardinal Elements

September 12 - October 5, 2019

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 12, 6-8pm &

Artist talk with Daniel Baird: Saturday, September 21st at 2 pm


Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by Ric Evans. The exhibition will open on September 12th and run until October 5th with an opening reception on Thursday, September 12th from 6 to 8 pm. The gallery will host an artist talk with Ric Evans and Daniel Baird on Saturday, September 21st at 2 pm.


Over the last four decades, Ric Evans has emerged as one of the preeminent abstract painters in Canada, working within the sub-genre of geometrical abstraction. Eschewing notions of progressive series or bodies of work, Evans describes his practice as “orbital”, continuously referencing a central idea while bringing new observations and considerations to the table. This is the first exhibition at the gallery to present some of his early shaped canvases alongside his most recent paintings. This pairing highlights the slow, nuanced evolution of Evans’ practice but also its monumental shifts within geometrical abstraction’s disciplined area of focus.


Evans has been making shaped canvases since the 1980s. Early examples in this exhibition include the tall, totem-like works composed of two or three panels, sometimes squeezing a thin vertical stripe. Also from this period are two-part paintings that rely on balance and utilize the inherent movement in the diagonal line. For Evans, the shaped canvas is not a departure from or a reaction to the square or rectangular format, but rather it is part of an ongoing dialogue between space, colour and form.


Evans’ most recent shaped panels, Cardinal Elements, are elegant, head-shape forms cut from a single birch panel - like giant puzzle pieces. Evans exaggerates the texture of the wood surface in some areas while masking it in others. He also challenges the viewer with optical illusions, carving out quirky, colourful shapes within the already irregular parameters. The eccentric shapes of the panels are echoed throughout the exhibition in other new paintings with forms that seemingly float or rotate within their backgrounds. While in Evans’ early work, his use of colour was somewhat conceptual, he describes his current approach as “informed intuition,” inspired by his experiences and the natural world.


Ric Evans’ recent work also retains, and even enhances, the immediacy and intimacy that comes with oil painting itself. Even for a painter in no way inclined toward big, emotionally charged gestures, oil paint creates sensuous, organic surfaces, like skin, like flowers and wood and dried mud. As a viewer, one wants to get close to them, acknowledging what Michael Fried could not: that the eye is not just an optical device but a sense organ. And geometrical abstraction, like geometry itself, is by nature intimate and immediate.

– Daniel Baird


Ric Evans’ work is included in many corporate and museum collections in Canada including the Art Gallery of Ontario. In 2015, Evans completed a large-scale commission for a prominent lobby location in one of the Toronto Dominion Towers in downtown Toronto. Evans was included in the internationally renowned curator, Roald Nasgaard’s highly acclaimed anthology, Abstract Painting in Canada (Douglas & McEntyre, 2008).


For more information on the artist, click here.

To read the complete essay by Daniel Baird, click here.