John Richard Fox
Born in Montreal, the son of James and Rosemary (Cunningham), Fox started painting around the age of 18.
Following his studies at McGill University (1945-46) he attended the MMFA School under Goodridge Roberts and William Armstrong (1946-9). He was awarded a British Council scholarship to study at the Slade School (1952-3). A grant from the Greenshields Memorial Foundation allowed him further study abroad in Florence and France (1955-57).
In his early work he was influenced by Goodridge Roberts and later by Matisse, Bonnard and Dufy. A painter of landscapes, portraits, figures, still-lifes and interiors in oils, acrylics, gouache and linear pen-and-ink drawings.
The Montreal Star reviewing his work in 1957 noted, " . . . Mr. Fox is a reserved, contemplative painter, who finds his strength in understatement. He paints thinly, something like a watercolour painter, taking pleasure not in juicy pigment or in the third dimension, but in the pattern that fills the square, in space and proportion and the judicious use of colour. In colour he is individual and ingratiating, rich and glowing without being sumptuous and reticent, wearing it like a mellow bloom . . . .".
Dorothy Pfeiffer noted in a review in 1959, "Essentially, the exhibition is one of an introspective and sensitive painter who shuns violence of any sort, either in living or in art, but who gently and studiously goes his own way, frequently to the delight of the gallery-going connoisseur."
Writing about Fox in 1973, Catherine Bates noted, "Fox has been painting much more abstract works than before. (Quoting him, she went on) 'I was always a figurative painter until last spring. The image is always important if you're a figurative painter, but I got more and more interested in what was happening in the spaces between the images, in the parts where there weren't any images. It's a question of emphasis - I'd been working with ambiguities, which is what painting is all about anyway. I've thought a lot about metaphors, a metaphor being something that embodies something else.' Fox just asks the question: 'Isn't any good figure painting full of metaphor?'".
His works such as Trophy (1986) bring to mind the words warm, mellow, and subtle. This large work in oil has various shades of brown, rose, green and minuscule touches of fiery pink. It vaguely suggests a partially nude form of a male against a deep brown background, arms out-stretched as if tied to a beam. But even without seeing that image the work is skillfully balanced by light and dark forms of pleasingly blended colours. The NGC has two fine examples of his earlier street scenes Umbrellas, Cote-des-Neiges (c. 1954) and Souvenir Street, Montreal (c. 1958) both full of atmosphere.He resides in Montreal with his wife Louise. They have two grown children, Angelica and Marietta.
His solo shows include:
Gallery XII, Mtl. (1952)
Laing Gallery, Tor. (1958)
Continental Galleries, Mtl. (1959) (1962) (1963)
Galerie Agnes Lefort, Mtl. (1965) (1967)
Roberts Gallery, Tor. (1966) (1968)
Galerie Marlborough-Godard, Mtl. (1973)
Mira Godard Gallery, Tor. (1986)
Heffel Gallery, Van. (2-artist, 1990), others.
He is represented in the following collections:
AGGV, Victoria, B.C.
London Reg. & Historical Museums, London
Dept. External Affairs, Ottawa
Concordia University, Montreal
Beaverbrook Gallery, Fredericton, N.B.
Confed. AG, Charlottetown, P.E.I.
CCAB, Ottawa, elsewhere.
-Colin S. Macdonald, Dictionary of Canadian Artists
Media:Pencil on Paper