Artist Detail

Claude Herbert Breeze (Canada 1938)

      BREEZE, Claude (Claude Herbert Breeze) Canadian b.1938

Born in Nelson, B.C., he studied with Ernest Lindner at the Saskatoon Technical Collegiate Inst., Sask. (1954-55); with Ronald Bloore, Roy Kiyooka, Kenneth Lochhead, and Arthur McKay at the U. of Saskatchewan, Regina (c. 1955-1958); at the Van. School of Art (1959). He won a number of awards during his studies including the Korlick Scholarship (1953) (1954); I.O.D.E. Scholarship (1956); Reeves Painting Scholarship (1957) and later a Canada Council Junior Fellowship (1964). His first solo show was held in 1965 and featured his Lovers in a Landscape series at the New Design Gallery in Vancouver under the patronage of Canadian painter Jack Shadbolt. He emerged as an expressionist making statements on the impact of male violence. He continued with this theme drawing his inspiration from reports from posters, newspapers, magazines, and television, and made his depictions through his drawings and colourful innovative paintings. His work caught the attention of the critics. David Watmough in the Vancouver Sun (1965) wrote, “Hitherto my knowledge of his work had been confined to individual canvases such as the Hill-Raja’s Dream, now purchased by the VAG, or his Persian Rider, his painting currently appearing in the sixth biennial at the NGC. But now, with his Lovers in a Landscape series, the full range and power of the Breeze imagination as it concentrates upon and distills the grotesqueries of our time, comes fully into play.” Watmough drew a parallel between Breeze’s work and the renowned Irish-born British painter, Francis Bacon. Breeze like Bacon, was reacting to cruelty and vio­lence of the contemporary world. A further parallel is apparent in the dis­tortion of the human figure employed by each artist to express the com­plexity of their emotions. In 1965 he painted his large canvas Sunday Afternoon (from an old American Photograph) (1965), (over 8 ft. x 6 ft.) in which he focused on the issue of racial hatred brought home to him by an old American photograph (found in the UBC’s students’ paper) of two negroes who had been lynched. The whole scene suggested to Breeze the paradox of the whites in a supposedly Christian society committing this atrocity. The painting was featured in the first issue of Arts/Canada with an appreciation by Barry Lord. The work was purchased by Canada Council in 1966 and then purchased from the CC by the Department of External Affairs. Breeze went on to satirize various subjects with pen and ink, seri­graphs, and colourful paintings. In works such as Hopscotch (1963) in the NGC, which depicts an enigmatic figure moving over a hopscotch (lion in sheep’s clothing perhaps symbolizing a child rapist?), he comes very close to Francis Bacon. His satirization of violence on television was his focus for many other works. Between 1972 and 1974, after his move to London, Ontario, he painted his attractive Canadian Atlas series of about sixty works. This series developed into cartographic and organic forms and ended with metaphoric relations between waterways and the human cardio-vascular system. By the early 1990’s he did his angel paintings which were reviewed by Christopher Hume as follows, “As much as anything, these winged beau­ties look like something futuristic, cyber-angels perhaps. The illusion is reinforced by the novel technique employed by Breeze. Basically after get­ting printouts of his computer sketches, he made over-sized laser copies of the images. These he removed from the paper on which they were printed by lifting them off with acrylic gel. The images were applied like transfers or decals right over the painted canvas. Blown up to four or five times their original size, they become a semi-abstract arrangement of dots. The high-tech flavor remains much in the manner of Blade Runner or Mad Max. But if technology is still an element, it is in a world that has nearly self-destructed. Paintings themselves are totally post-apocalyptic, full of color and texture and half-formed motifs that appear to be flying apart. Images emerge from the swirl of pigment and then seem to disappear . . . . Breeze never quite resolves a figure, whether by intention or not, one can’t say – they’re eloquent statements of the contemporary condition. That’s to say, confused, confusing and contradictory in its usage of traditional content within a context of modern technology.” His other solo shows include: U. West. Ont. Maclnosh Gal., Lond. (1966) (1972) (1973); York U., Tor. (1966) (1972); Bau-Xi Gal., Van. (1968) (1970) (1973) (1976) (1980) (1981) (1982); VAG, Van. (1971); Mendel AG, Sask’on. (1974); M. Godard Gal., Mtl. (1973) (1974); Mira Godard Gal., Tor. (1976); (others); Bau-Xi Gal., Tor. (1992). His commissions include: large acrylic canvas, Canadian Atlas Series: Position of London for Middlesex County Court House & Land Reg. Ofc., Lond., Ont. (1974); large mural, T.T.C. Lawrence Ave. Subway (1976-77); tapestry (1976-77); others. He is represented in the following collec­tions: NGC, Ott.; VAG, Van.; AGO, Tor.; CC Art Bank, Ott.; Dept. Ex. Affairs, Ott.; MMFA, Mtl.; Imperial Oil Ltd.; U. Westn. Ont., Lond. and elsewhere. Affiliations: RCA (1974); PDCC (1976). He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

References

Vancouver Sun, Sept. 7, 1965 “Breeze Grows in Power, Stature” by David Watmough

Lond. Free Press, Ont., Nov. 12, 1966 “B.C. artist has controversial show” by Lenore Crawford

Globe & Mail, Tor., Dec. 24, 1966 “Claude Breeze’s shockers strip skin off the Sick Sixties”

Arts/Canada, January, 1967 “Sunday Afternoon” by Barry Lord

Toronto Daily Star, Ont., July 1, 1967 “You don’t hang Breeze in the parlor” by Val Sears

Sixth Biennial Exhibition of Can. Painting 1965, NGC, Ott., 1965, P.20

AGO the Can. collection by Helen Pepall Bradfield, McG.-Hill, Tor., P.42

Canadian Art Today by Wm. Townsend, Studio Intl., Lond., Eng., P.59, 63

The Nude in Canadian Painting by Jerrold Morris, New Press, Tor., 1972, P.20, 33

Artscanada, April/May 1976 “Claude Breeze Bau-Xi Gallery” by Steve Cummings, P.81

Enjoying Canadian Painting by Patricia Godsell, Gen. Pub., Don Mills, Ont., P.228-230

Visions, Contemporary Art in Canada Douglas & Maclntryre, Van., 1983, “Redefining the Role” by Charlotte Townsend-Gault, P.144, 147

Canadian Art Collection The U. Westn. Ont. Lond., Ont., by Alexandra L. Haldane, Mcln. Gal./UWO, Lond., Ont., P.12, 58

Van. Art & Artists 1931-1983 VAG, Van., B.C., 1983, P.193-4, 403

The Ont. Collection by Fern Bayer, Fitzh. & Whsde., Markham, Ont., 1984, P.308, 309

A Concise History of Canadian Painting by Dennis Reid, Oxford, Tor., P.362

Catalogue NGC, Can. Art, Vol. 1, A-F Eds. C.C. Hill/P.B. Landry, NGC/NMC, Ott., 1988, P.127-130

CC Art Bank Catalogue 1972-1992, CCAB, Ott., 1992, P.35-36

The Toronto Star, Oct. 29, 1992 “Art – Guardian angels float down on Breeze” by Christopher Hume

Colin S. MacDonald
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada
View more content
Head Head

Claude Herbert Breeze PDCC, RCA (Canadian b.1938)

Head         

Pen/Ink   

17 ½ x 11 ½

Signed and dated (1965)

Claude Herbert Breeze PDCC, RCA (Canadian b.1938) Head breezedet breeze-sig breeze-label

Send an Enquiry