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KARL MAY

Karl May ... is probably the most brilliant, resilient painter wielding a brush in Canada, and certainly the most debonair. The artist in him responds to the essentials, wherever he is, with amazing proficiency, and the style varies to tally with the mood of the subject. What basically accounts for Karl May's size may be his comprehensive ideas about art. An entirely realistic painting will include the abstract qualities a nonobjective man might seek, while a semi-abstract painting will include as much sense of objective reality as a die-hard representational painter might want to offer.- Pearl McCarthy, Globe & Mail, Toronto.

Karl May, the German-Canadian painter was born in Bohemia in 1901. He studied at the academies in Prague and Vienna and in 1928 became a professor of art at the Academy in Prague. Through his association with the celebrated artists of the Brucke and Blaue Reiter groups in Germany he became a victim of the Nazi campaign against dangerous and subversive art. In 1937 his paintings were confiscated and derided in the infamous exhibition Entartete Kunst ('Degenerate Art'), and later burned in Berlin together with works of Klee, Nolde, Kirchner, Beckmann and others.

After the war, his position as artistic adviser to the Iranian Academy brought him to Canada as organizer of the Persian exhibit at the 1952 Canadian International Trade Fair. He became a Canadian citizen and soon established a reputation as one of the best artists working in Canada, quickly gaining representation in public and private collections throughout Canada and the world. One-man shows of his work have been held in Berlin, Vienna, Dusseldorf, Kassel, Munich, Hamburg, Tehran and Chile. In Canada, in addition to numerous one-man exhibitions in private galleries in Toronto and Montreal, there were major exhibitions at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Shortly before Karl May's death in 1976, an important retrospective exhibition was organized by the Public Archives in Ottawa, launching a program by the Picture Division to recognize and document the careers of foreign-born Canadians who have made valuable contributions to the country's artistic life. A detailed catalogue was published to accompany this exhibition on its tour of galleries across Canada and museums in the United States and Europe.

The present exhibition comprises works in oil and acrylic, gouache, pastel, charcoal and tar drawings, handprints, lithographs and will include a number of "Hinterglas" - behind glass paintings, a traditional European medium, but which Karl May has adapted to the contemporary idiom.