“Weinstein’s work is like a compressed history of modern art, exploring aspects of Impressionism, Primitivism, Abstract Expressionism and color field painting… He uses a few common elements… and works them into bigger ideas… (the figures) actually set off the backgrounds, charging them with energy.”
Des Moines Register
“One is… impressed with the scope and skill of the Artist’s work, with his expert handling of so many media… but one comes away with a lasting regard for his genius with color… (He is) a superb colorist: his blues, his yellows, his reds are not quite like anyone else’s and are exactly right for what he is creating.”
Daily Mercury, Guelph, Ontario
“Weinstein’s canvasses are often dominated by the profiled figure, alone or in small groups, brought to life by his masterful handling of bold hues and an economy of shape. Weinstein confronts his viewers with colors that encourage strong emotional responses. The colors, however, often contradict underlying emotions hiding within the composition, and a wonderful tension is created. The normally joyous nature of bright oranges and yellows transform into sensations of heightened anxiety when coupled with rigid figures facing away from one another.
Weinstein also manipulates color to create fields of depth within a primarily flat surface. The strong, warm colors project out while the cooler, reserved hues give the illusion of receding. This handling of color broadens the complexity of what may, at first, appear as a simple figurative composition.”
Jim Zimmer, Director
Sioux City Art Center Iowa
“…Alan alone remains … still without pretense… performing his art and in doing so performing his life, as though doubt and distractions were options one merely does not exercise, countries one chooses not to visit.”
Clark Blaise, author [click name to read article]
From “Alan Weinstein: 20 Years”
“…Looking at a number of paintings simultaneously adds new dimensions to each one… above all for the daring use of colour. In the paintings of the past ten years, Alan Weinstein reveals himself to be a superb colourist.”
By: Clark Blaise
Saratoga Springs, NY
Alan Weinstein: 20 Years Macdonald-Stewart Art CentreIt’s been twenty years since I entered the Writer’s Workshop of the University of Iowa, fresh from an undergraduate major in geology, fresher yet from classes at Harvard and my attempt to work in a Cambridge bookstore and live for my writing. And freshest of all from the reverberations of my parents’ divorce, my mother’s return to Winnipeg and my own fascination with that New England world of the dispossessed Quebecois, whose son, I realized, I was.
And so, in February of 1962, I arrived in Iowa City, a dissatisfied American, a suspicious academic, and an uncertain writer. On that first night in Iowa, the director of the Workshop, Paul Engle, invited me up for drinks, and an introduction to “another” foreign writer in the Workshop, Bharati Mukherjee, from Calcutta. The next day, my only friend in Iowa City, my undergraduate roommate, said to me, “I’d like you to meet Alan Weinstein. He’s a painter, and he’s the only person I’ve met around here that I like. He’s Canadian.”
A year and a half later, Alan and Rocio Weinstein were the witnesses to the marriage of Bharati Mukherjee and Clark Blaise. You’ve got to say I’m loyal to first impression.
Twenty years later, after the children, the jobs, the travels, the return to Canada and the decision to leave, we’ve met again. Alan and Rocio live and work in a converted barn five miles out of Iowa City, and I have returned for the year to teach in the Workshop. It would not surprise me, anytime in the next thirty years and any place in the world, to look up from my paper, or gaze across a room, and see Alan, no different than he’s ever looked, staring back at me, amused, expectant, and totally unastonished.
In many ways, two more different men could not be imagined. Alan, Toronto-born and raised (even more, Forest Hill Village, born and raised), who’d not even visited another high school till a Dominion Drama Festival competition took him there, and I, who’d attended some thirty schools in every corner of Canada and the United States. His background: middle-class, comfortable, Jewish; mine: unruly, unstable, a tossed salad. For me, Canada represented glamour and stability; for Alan, Canada (more precisely, Toronto), embodied timidity and smugness.
Alan’s liberation had come from one high school summer spent at the National Music Camp in Michigan, where for the first time he met kids like him, kids who trusted their talents, in music, drama and art, and not just their intelligence. Alan’s ambitions had settled initially on the stage – Stratford was the world outside – and that summer he focused them on the role of Claudius, “making Hamlet look like a schmuck,” he jokes with me now.
How Canadian, we both agree.
Looking at his work – his enormous (26′ x 19′) “Musicians” tapestry (commissioned by the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts in Regina), and nearly all of his prints – it’s easy to appreciate the actor-director in Alan. The human figure is nearly always the focus; and the human figure is frequently a performing self.
Alan first went to the States in 1957 – to Princeton, a year in Paris, then Iowa – to learn his craft. He didn’t leave Canada in anger or resentment, nor did he return in defeat. He left Forest Hill to get away from a world that knew only the University of Toronto as a standard of excellence, and the professions as the mark of success. And so he had rebelled, if that’s the word, in characteristic “good boy” fashion – by getting accepted to some of the most prestigious American colleges. He later rejected Harvard for graduate school in Art History, taking his Woodrow Wilson fellowship to Iowa, and painting, instead. A very Canadian form of rebellion, we might say; gaining greater freedom by seeking approval, even by small acts of submission.
At Princeton, Alan considered an English major (among painters I have known, Alan remains the most deeply “literary”, a trait I appreciated when I found myself at first living with painters, a witness to their vast talents and frightening, wasteful energies) but by his second year, he had settled on Art History. Princeton’s was a conservative curriculum; Goya’s prints – which have exerted an influence on his work – were considered simply “crazy”. He went to Paris in his third year, and immersed himself in the Louvre, spending six hours a day, five days a week in every comer of the museum, so that, as he says, “I knew every object in the Louvre, where everything came from; I knew Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Renaissance art, and it all had authenticity, it was all valid, all living, and it still is.” He came out of college “sopping with culture,” a natural critic and historian, one might think. Except that deep down, Alan was still a performer, still an actor. The background would serve to sustain his art, not replace it.
The years have been kind to Alan and Rocio; four children, a life made possible by his art, freedom to paint and print while still comparatively young, and a productivity that requires a small warehouse to keep it straight. That marvelous fluidity of the artist! – the thing a writer most admires; the older an artist gets, the easier it seems to come; as Alan says of printmaking, “you can’t overwork a print. Virgin areas reappear, it’s a continual opportunity to redeem yourself.” And life has been kind to him in another way, relating more to his character, perhaps, than fashions in art or the market-place. It is not part of his nature to give up one thing in order to take on another. He didn’t give up painting because he fell in love with printmaking. He didn’t abandon his farm in Ontario to take on new space in Iowa There are no breaks, no fractures in Alan Weinstein; just rings of concentric growth.
Of all the “artistic” friends I’ve had, in whatever field they’ve chosen, Alan alone remains in mid-life a larger and more accomplished version of the man he’d started out; still learned, still gracious, still married, still painting and printing, still accessible, still without pretense, and still slightly outside the mainstream. An artist performing his art and in doing so, performing his life, as though doubt and distraction were options one merely does not exercise, countries one chooses not to visit.
Rick Archbold, author [click name to read article]
From Alan Weinstein: Ten Years
“…the individuality of Weinstein’s work has less to do with geography than with his tendency to cross and re-cross the boundaries separating various media, physical sizes, and realities. His ability to synthesize aspects of his own production, encouraging free association between the print, drawings and paintings on which he works simultaneously gives Weinstein’s work its independent status…”
A Retrospective of Paintings: 1991-2001
By: Rick Archbold
Whose recent books include Canada, Our History and Conversations with MummiesFor the past 25 years I’ve been following Alan Weinstein’s art. I own a few of his early mixed media prints and a number of his paintings. Until now I haven’t been able to see a major body of his work as a whole and in sequence. Thanks to this ten-year retrospective, I have the opportunity to glimpse the artist’s mind at work and to follow his brush strokes down different exploratory paths: to observe the evolution of his art.
This exhibition reveals Weinstein discovering an idea — a gesture, a colour, a relationship — then experimenting with it, playing its variations, and finally transforming it into a rich and strange world. The viewer makes connections, some intentional, some accidental, some serendipitous. The haunting family groups of the early 1990s, mostly posed in flat geometric space, reappear in changing settings until ten years later they inhabit hallucinatory forests both familiar and otherworldly. A simple chair turns up again and again, gradually assuming the quality of an incantation. The bold landscapes of the middle of the decade give way to simpler and more elemental compositions until nature’s forms have been distilled into a satisfyingly complicated calligraphy.
I am an art lover, not a critic. I don’t pretend to understand what these paintings signify. I only know what they mean to me and how I experience them.
Family (1992) is the first painting in the Family series at the beginning of the decade. The figures — in profile as they always are in Alan’s art — are identifiable: mother, leaning slightly forward, her wrists resting on the back of a chair; child, in front of its mother-why am I so sure the infant is a boy? — sitting on the floor with feet extended and shoulders hunched; father, seated and motionless, his back to the other two.
What are we to make of this familial grouping? A painterly expression of contemporary alienation? Of family breakdown? Of the essential emptiness of modern life? I don’t think so, although I do experience a sense of deep sadness when I contemplate these clustered figures who share a space but seem so separate and alone.
Yet, there is a sense of relationship among these people, however troubled. What is it? Each viewer will bring his or her own experience and associations. I see an angry child, a mother who does not know how to comfort, a father whose rigidity is a strait¬jacket for his emotions. Then I am also reminded of Alan, the man behind the painting: someone who revels in the richness of his own family, whose marriage is the best sort of partnership, who with his wife has made me and my partner loved members of their world. And so, knowing what I know, I let the vibrant, gorgeous, joyful colours of this picture, the exuberance of its pointillist technique, lift my heart.
And last, I simply admire this painting for its painterliness, its play of form and colour. Looking at it as a pure pattern of relationships gives me pleasure.
This retrospective offers us an opportunity to respond to the range and development of Alan Weinstein’s work. Looking at a number of paintings simultaneously adds new dimensions to each one. On my last visit to Alan’s home and studio in Iowa City, he’d hung a whole wall’s worth of paintings together. The effect was astonishing and exciting — above all for the daring use of colour. Sometimes this artist will take the most basic colours — a child’s palette, perhaps? — and combine them in electrically charged ways. At other times, his palette becomes subtle and surreal. In the paintings of the past ten years, Alan Weinstein reveals himself to be a superb colourist.
Nowhere is this gift for colour more evident than in the landscapes that first erupted during the pivotal summer of 1997 at Alan’s farm near Teeswater, Ontario. In these works the pastoral veers toward the mystical. In Gowland’s Field (1997), for example, a neighbour’s land has been distilled down to simple formal elements and colour relationships-yet is still recognizably a southern Ontario farmscape in late August.
This painting also seems to look forward to the almost calligraphic landscapes Alan began producing in 1999, among them the Blue Garden screen.These complex recent images are part of a fascinating trend. In them we meet the same iconic figures and the same simple pieces of furniture that populate the paintings from the beginning of the decade. But now the people and the chairs are poised in surreal environments-open park-like spaces or dense forest settings, for example Red Chair (1999). His yellow landscapes, among them Enchanted Forest (1999), form an intense series in which figures, chairs, and trees become part of a single intricate pattern.
Where will Weinstein’s brush next lead him? The haunting Adam and Eve paintings of 2000 suggest one possible avenue. The strange and disturbing ink drawings of naked or partly clothed figures of 2001, involved in some sort of deeply despairing procession, suggest others. One thing seems certain: Alan Weinstein will continue to follow the inner logic and integrity of his artistic path while always reaching out to us in our humanity.
Ingrid Jenkner, curator [click name to read article]
From “Alan Weinstein: 20 Years”
By: Ingrid Jenkner
Curator of ExhibitionsInitially, printmaking was the public face which allowed Alan Weinstein to develop a separate, private world of both imagery and media. His early practice of exhibiting mainly his complex intaglio work meant that, “… for ten years I was happy to be known primarily as a printmaker.” Weinstein’s reputation has expanded since then, to accommodate parallel achievements in drawing, painting and tapestry design. As an artist he has always been self-sufficient. Major artistic influences were assimilated early in his career, during which he developed a repertoire of images capable of realization in any of his preferred media.
Weinstein had painted while an undergraduate at Princeton, and it was not until he arrived at the University of Iowa to work on a Master of Fine Arts degree that he discovered the intaglio print. The fact that Mauricio Lasansky was his instructor has a great deal to do with this: indeed Weinstein’s association with the highly respected printmaker affected both his printmaking technique and his approach to the human figure. Like Lasansky he enjoys the challenge of working on the copper plate, the tension created by its physical resistance and its capacity for receiving detail upon detail with no loss of control over the image. For Weinstein in particular, the rigid discipline involved in the time-consuming intaglio process has the effect of curbing his natural facility, resulting in a definitive statement equal in importance to an entire series of paintings.
Despite the impetus of his print training in Iowa, Weinstein chose to spend the years 1964-66 painting in Europe. Earlier studies in art history at Princeton and the Ecole du Louvre had introduced him to the work of the European masters he most admired, and these were invariably painter-printmakers. Prolonged exposure to original works by Goya, Picasso, Rembrandt and Rouault allowed him, in his own word, to “internalize” something from each. Thus, two additional years spent in Holland, England and Spain served to consolidate his painterly training.
By the summer of 1968, again in Spain, he was producing such ambitious canvases as Seated Figure and Two Figures with Dog, life-size in scale, narrow and vertical in format, and featuring the now characteristic emphasis on hands, feet and limbs. The narrow, elongated composition lent itself equally to a horizontal treatment; the print Nude Reclining, 1967 was constructed using three separate plates printed in horizontal sequence.
From 1966 to 1969 Weinstein taught printmaking at the University of Saskatchewan in Regina, producing a major body of prints represented here by Night Watch 1966, Nude Reclining 1967, Song 1969 and Le Cygne 1969. In Night Watch the helmet motif is powerfully realized as part of the overall geometry of the composition, conferring on the image the intensity of an icon. The luminous blue was selected after exhaustive testing; it balances the blacks with striking effectiveness and economy. In Song this sombre colour harmony contributes to the chilling psychological effect, due in part to an unusually explicit passage, the visual quotation from Jacques Callot’s The Miseries of War.
An abrupt lightening of tone and content occurs in Le Cygne, a visual pun in which the helmet shapes are wittily restated against a sparkling white ground. Linear interest is provided by the variety of intaglio techniques; rich, mezzotinted tonal areas next to crisp, hatching and delicate drypoint. For all its apparent simplicity, Le Cygne indicates the sophistication and versatility Weinstein had achieved to date; his colour sense and drawing ability transcended the technical competence required for printmaking.
Weinstein’s printmaking activity was only briefly interrupted when he moved to a farm near the village of Teeswater, Ontario. Bruce County is still populated by descendants of Scottish and German settlers who arrived in the late 19th. century, and it has retained its character as a loose agglomeration of small rural communities. In this quiet environment Alan and his wife Rocio could pursue their respective interests, printmaking and writing, with unbroken concentration. Weinstein’s teaching appointment as sessional instructor at the University of Guelph allowed him to spend more time than before on his own work, and he quickly set up a large studio in the bam.
A period of intense activity began, in drawing, painting and printmaking, which lasted ten years. The intaglio print Witness was left in an intermediate stage at the time of the move to Ontario, and Weinstein began to sketch out variations of the helmet motif in relation to the human figure. In small pencil studies it resembles a carapace attached to the soft flesh of suspended, sprawling and stooping figures. Then, in 1970, the first six-foot mixed media drawings were completed. By extending the composition of his “helmet” prints to accommodate a barely life-size figure, Weinstein produced in Witness 1970 a sinister image, with a brooding intensity and surface richness that match the prints. Even when painting on this scale, in chalk, acrylic and turpentine washes, he continued to work on paper, a familiar support.
In spite of the sombre quality of such works, this was in fact a very optimistic time, as the Weinsteins were expecting their first child and Alan had found his momentum in the studio. Combining coloured washes with chalk or pencil drawings, he began consciously to work in series, which gained in expressive range, from the grotesque to the whimsical, as they grew freer in execution. The painterly drawings of children are rich, close-valued compositions of white and black figures emerging from fields of brown and ochre.
Structuring his compositions around helmet shapes, Weinstein opposed their geometry with soft, plump figures based on the proportions of the very young child. Figures with enlarged heads, truncated bodies and helpless, flexible extremities would recur in future works, as the artist’s attention was increasingly claimed by his growing family of children.
Throughout this period he was busy with prints in the Helmet series. The drawings on which he worked concurrently served as a safety valve, allowing a freedom of handling and rapid results that he could not hope for in printmaking.
In 1972 Weinstein returned to the tall, narrow compositional format of Witness 1970 and Pregnant Woman 1970. His theatrical single-figure images lent themselves naturally to serial treatment, and the 15 Processional figures evolved during that year. The ritual quality so often encountered in his subject matter is accentuated here, in the hieratic poses and fantastic costuming of the figures. Size confers presence on these images, which are enriched by layers of collage and paint.
The tendency to proceed point-counterpoint is especially marked in the early 1970s. With the completion of the last of the “helmet” intaglios (Conquistador 1971), a series of painterly projects was launched, including squarish paintings of children and some small, lushly articulated oils (Head 1971). Around 1972, the acrylic collage and chalk studies for the print Infanta were begun, and this image eventually took the form of a sumptuous, colourful costume piece. This ambitious departure from the previous style of printmaking can be understood as a synthesis of elements developed in the oil paintings, the child paintings and the concurrent Processional series. Weinstein’s experience with collage cutouts was undoubtedly one of the factors leading to his use of numerous shaped plexiglass plates in Infanta. This innovation eventually overwhelmed the intaglio plates which were the original basis for the image. The formation of Infanta took nine months of painstaking work, guided by Weinstein’s principle that “every print must be more than the last one.” Such a slow evolution had its advantages, however: “It’s a fussy process, adding and subtracting. One has to wait for clarity of vision. While waiting, I can work on other things.”
“Other things” included the Musicians suite of paintings in acrylic and collage on paper. With its elaborations and refinements of formal elements from Processional and Infanta, Musicians, in retrospect, represents a crucial phase in Weinstein’s development as an artist. From the transitional Player completed in 1973, through to Pianist 1974, significant changes take place. White space steadily gains precedence over coloured and tonal areas, until the figures seem to shimmer in light. Structural tautness is provided by discreetly tinted collage bands, around which floats a network of nervous, flickering lines. This new relationship of figure to ground, the linear emphasis and resultant clarity of form, held implications for the forth-coming tapestry design, the print Flutist 1975 and the Bearers of Burden, projects which flowed into each other over the period 1975 to 1978.
The coincidence of developing musicians as a theme for a major series in 1973 could not have been more fortunate. When, in 1975, the nationwide competition was announced for a “major work of art in a sculptural medium” for the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts, Weinstein was prepared to respond. He had at his disposal a set of “readymade” thematic elements; the problem he faced was how to realize the piece in a way which accommodated the sculptural criterion without compromising his customary, two-dimensional orientation. Ascertaining that fabric would be acceptable as a sculptural material, he made ready his proposal – for a tapestry. The preparatory studies included in this exhibition summarize the design phases through the first, second and final submissions; they trace a period of growth remarkable for an artist who was already mature as a printmaker, but who had not (except for the Spanish paintings) attempted anything on such a grand scale, much less in an architectural context.
At first Weinstein conceived of the work as a panel with figures of musicians arranged on a single ground plane. This idea took form just prior to the deadline for the first submission, which coincided with the birth of his son Daniel in September, 1975. Later, realizing that the piece would not be limited to a single vantage point, he allowed the figures to float upwards and fill the composition. By the time a second submission was due, in January, 1976, he had arrived at a conceptual breakthrough – the tapestry would consist of several separate panels, with each section a self-contained unit as well as part of the whole. In this way he solved the visual problems posed by the architecture of the theatre foyer, which demanded that the wall be viewed at a distance of 16 feet from the top balcony, 40 feet from the second (at which level it would only be partially visible) and also from the ground floor.
A final submission was required in April, 1976. The colour scheme of red, blue, yellow, ochre and white was already established. It remained to reduce the number of panels to four, and to arrive at a visually effective way of presenting the musicians themselves. “I needed to convert the (1973) Musicians’ sense of intimate mystery to something comparable but publicly accessible…”
Alan Weinstein was awarded the commission in May 1976, but the painting problems occupied him until December. He had to deal with the consideration that his work would be interpreted in woven tapestry, probably by a small, specialized workshop. In this sense the division of the work into smaller units was a practical step. Working first on paper, then on canvas, Weinstein produced “increasingly large paintings to translate the plans and studies into a language that could be articulated in tapestry with suggestive qualities that could be controlled…” If the complex groupings and interrelationships of the figures were novelties in Weinstein’s experience as an image-maker, the fluid, calligraphic drawing, which defines the forms, was also unprecedented in its boldness.
The final canvases, in one-half scale, were fixed to the studio wall and painted from a ladder, so as to approximate the viewing conditions of the theatre foyer in Saskatchewan. In December Weinstein added collaged cut-outs painted in solid colours, “a chunk of vocabulary which intensified (by contrast) the painterly and drawerly aspects of the work, and suited the tapestry medium.” The design that had taken 18 months of work was complete.
The search for a tapestry workshop which would undertake the final phase of the project proved equally lengthy. The few Canadian weavers who responded were hampered by the time constraint; the work was eventually contracted to the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in Australia. This group of weavers specialized in the interpretation of designs by artists who were themselves not fabricators of tapestries.
In January 1977 Weinstein followed his paintings to Melbourne, Australia, where they would be transposed into tapestry. A unique collaboration ensued, with Weinstein making each colour decision in consultation with the eight weavers. Neither he nor the weavers had been involved in a comparable project before, so that each phase of production was preceded by the kind of colour sampling and testing which Weinstein had previously applied only to the printmaking process. The hard-edge collage areas, for example, were woven in a corrugated texture composed of three closely related hues, to give a “popping” effect which corresponded visually to the intention of the flat, painted design. Even the overpainted pentimenti were convincingly reproduced in the tapestry. The methodical, step-by-step approach ensured Weinstein’s participation in all the major decisions, giving him a sense of personal responsibility for every detail of the final product, and teaching him a great deal about tapestry weaving.
He stayed in Australia for six weeks, and was already occupied with the Bearers of Burden when the finished tapestry arrived eight months later; it was unveiled in the foyer of the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts on December 17, 1977. Weinstein looks back on this exhilarating period with nostalgia and pride: “I still love some of those ideas so much that I would like to push them further in the future;” he is quick to acknowledge the value of the two-year hiatus to his career as a whole: “pushing my formal needs in this direction increased my vocabulary, both formally and in terms of content.”
The Saskatchewan tapestry commission has since born fruit, though perhaps not as quickly and plentifully as the artist could have hoped.
Nevertheless, Player of Pipes 1981-82, the six by four foot tapestry commissioned for a private residence in San Antonio, is a major work in its own right. More complex in colour than The Musicians tapestry, and subtler in design, it answers the requirements, of the intimate space for which it was planned, while incorporating aspects of Weinstein’s most recent projects (The Book of Esther drawings and the Monument series.) Player maintains its integrity as a piece of woven tapestry, and at the same time succeeds in duplicating the artist’s most characteristic effects in collage, line, acrylic and coloured inks. It would seem from both instances that the exercise of tapestry design plays a vital role in Alan Weinstein’s art; it integrates previous achievements and places them in perspective, providing a foundation for new projects and revitalizing old ones. Printmaking has a parallel importance in relation to his other works, though inherently it must lack the scope for broad statement and monumental size.
The reduction of colour areas and the pursuit of “cleanliness” reached an apotheosis in the relief and intaglio Flutist 1975. Having pushed to their logical conclusion tendencies first broached in Infanta and the 1973 Musicians suite, Weinstein characteristically plunged again into painterliness. At this point he was deeply involved with the acrylic preparatory studies for The Musicians tapestry; the colours and textual possibilities of paint pre-occupied him. Inspired by the embossed surfaces of Infanta and Flutist, he explored the possibilities for achieving comparably sculptural effects on heavily overpainted paper collage. The sculptural effects resulted, if at the expense of other qualities, in a series of uncompleted paintings which Weinstein would describe as “pushing works courageously into failure.”
A lesson was learned and control re-established, in the suite of paintings on paper entitled Bearers of Burden. In this group, represented here by three examples, sensuous effects of colour and texture are kept in check through powerful drawing and areas of tonal contrast. The figures achieve an effect of biblical solemnity and symbolism beneath their mysterious bundles.
In 1978, after the unveiling of The Musicians tapestry Weinstein initiated a new project which would involve him over the next few years. Intrigued by the calligraphic freedom developed for the tapestries he began a series of drawings on themes from the Book of Esther. Small in scale, intimate in intent, the drawings are in fact a continuation of the monumentality and theatricality of The Musicians.
Esther abounds in telling characterizations. The king, suitably absorbed with his own importance, is at once imposing and pompous; Haman is a posturing fool and Esther a queenly seductress. The personages act out the drama in frieze-like compositions dashed off in a few swift strokes. Weinstein’s delight in the act of drawing is irresistibly conveyed here, coupled as it is with a bright palette of secondary colours, like those introduced in the 1979 relief prints.
This series was still in progress when in 1979 Weinstein resumed his investigation of the sculptural possibilities inherent in relief printing. Thinking to combine intaglio with plexiglass plates as he had in the Flutist, he took up an old copper plate etched with a figure of his daughter Rachel. Once he had assembled the shaped plexiglass plates for the head, however, the linear definition provided by the etching seemed redundant. Rachel thus was printed completely in the relief process, on thick India paper which emphasizes the embossed surface. Rachel is more than a two dimensional image; it is an object. The relief prints Sentinel and Toy Soldier followed in quick succession.
In 1979, having accepted a teaching position in Texas, Weinstein continued to develop his Esther series, this time adding areas of colour to augment the dramatic statements. The Esther monoprints produced in 1980 edged the ideas closer to paintings and reflect the artist’s pleasure in the luminosity and transparency of brilliantly coloured paints against white paper. At the same time a series of drypoint and relief prints was begun for a limited edition folio, and that series is still in progress.
In 1980 the first Monument drawings were made in Texas. This was a difficult time for the artist. The recent death of Weinstein’s mother and the anxiety he felt is expressed in a sepia drawing, Mask-Monument 1981. It represents a death mask mounted on a pedestal. The mask profile, with less morbid connotations, had already appeared in recent relief prints.
Having entered the pictorial context of the Monument drawings, however, the mask loses its disturbing personal overtones and becomes a “Weinsteinian” archetype. Like the helmets, hoods and maillot-de-bain stripes already established in the iconography, the mask’s potential for symbolic interpretation and formal permutation is infinite, and capable of exploitation in any idiom, be it drawing, relief printing, ink-wash or acrylic paint.
In the context of this series, Tribal Image represents the inevitable synthesis, for it is true that Weinstein cannot leave a medium for long. Thematically related to the Monument works, Tribal Image reintroduces intaglio techniques with relief plates, and uses broad areas of colour in a finely orchestrated harmony of vivid blues and pinks.
It might be said that Alan Weinstein’s artistic activity has taken place beyond the mainstream of Canadian and American art. Geographical circumstances may have contributed: early studies in Europe, teaching posts in different parts of Canada and the United States, the relative isolation of Teeswater. But the individuality of Weinstein’s work has less to do with geography than with his tendency to cross and recross the boundaries separating various media, physical sizes and realities. His ability to synthesize aspects of his own production, encouraging a free association between the print, drawings and paintings on which he works simultaneously gives Weinstein’s work its independent status within the Canadian figurative tradition.
“Alan Weinstein: 10 Years” Gallery Stratford, Stratford, Canada exhibition brochure 2002. With introduction by Rick Archbold.
“Alan Weinstein: 20 Years” MacDonald-Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, Ontario exhibition catalog, 1983. With introduction by Clark Blaise, catalog essay by Ingrid Jenkner.
“The Artistic Freedom of Alan Weinstein” Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 12, 1988.
“Big Book, Short Story” Iowa City Press Citizen, November 7, 1988.
“Artists Work On Their Talent at Weinstein School of Art” Walkerton Herald-Times, August 25, 1992.
“…Top Award Goes to Iowa City Artist” Des Moines Register, November 5, 2000. By Mary Challender.
“The Artist at Home” Des Moines Register, May 9, 2005. By Amanda Pierre.Alan Weinstein The Ontario Studio: Five Decades