Should we rejoice that as a result of a
shrinking world there is a universality of style in the Plastic Arts? Should we rejoice in
the disappearance of local schools, particularisms and the folklore so dear to our
forefathers? I think so. However it may be, this evolution toward universality is
irreversible. Nevertheless, this does not by any means exclude diversity, for as we have
known for a long time, there are as many styles as there are artists endowed with an
York Wilson seems to me to be a living example of what I am saying.
He is man and painter before being Canadian and his painting is a direct expression of the
pre-eminence of both man and painter, over ethnic or national allegiance. There is
no National Art, said Kurt Schwitters, 40 years ago, any more than there is a proletarian
Art. Art exists as such and Art as such must be served.
I would readily call York Wilson a disciplined lyric. All of him is a
combination of energy and direction. The muted harmonies lead to an awareness of a sort of
peaceful struggle, to the quiet affection of an enthusiastic temperament governed by
sensitivity. The rule which guides creativity allows for a margin of liberty which makes
it appear that painting creates itself as Nature does. A Nature non-eruptive, which has
long since disavowed all excess.
Thus does York Wilsons painting lead us into a garden which is in
some way his conception of man. And if this garden contains accidents, imperfections,
fallow land, even its preconceived desert, it is because this conception of man implies a
multitude of ways of life, in the image of the multiplicity of nature.
There is, in this painter, a visionary gardener enamoured with immensity,
but in this gardener is hidden a poet. A poet of intimacy. Only abstract painting permits
these propitious harmonies of apparently irreconcilable dimensions.