York Wilson
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Seven Lively Arts
Story of Oil

The Story of Oil 

Commentary by Paul Duval

Murals have for centuries been man's creative signature on his architecture.

Buildings can be mere boxes - or they can reflect the human life and endeavour they were designed to facilitate.  All great civilizations have identified their architecture with their culture through the ornament of painting and sculpture.

Toronto's Imperial Oil Building is a monumental example of the use of fine art to humanize architecture.  It provides both the worker and the visitor with a persona; sense of warmth and belonging.

The major artistic feature of the new building is York  Wilson's giant wall-painting which dominates the entrance foyer. It is not only the largest mural in Canada, but also the most impressive in creative content.  It is comparable to the finest murals in America.

One of the most difficult of all artistic problems is designing for a large area, without the resulting design appearing either vacant or confused.  In the Imperial Oil mural, this problem has been solved in a distinguished manner by York Wilson.

Within the mural's complex pattern is the story of oil and energy, from the fossil pits of prehistory to the jet propulsion era of today. The individual symbols may be found with ease. In the left-hand panel are illustrated the raw materials, geology and exploration of oil.  On the right is illustrated the evolution of transportation, the design elements being ingeniously bound together by a linear pattern representing highways.  

Dominating the right panel of Wilson's mural is a giant hand, symbolizing humanity.  Within its great palm, Wilson shows the material power of the atom, suggesting man's power to open or close the doors of his own destiny.

It is fitting that the most luminous colour appears in this area which is concerned with humanity's future. It is a note of hope which provides the key to this splendid mural.

Such creations as this one come into being through the free co-operation of art and enterprise.  When an understanding institution permits a fine artist to exercise his skill and imagination on its behalf, the result can be a lasting tribute to its vision. This is true of York Wilson's Imperial Oil mural.

Paul Duval served for many years as Art Editor at Saturday Night Magazine.