Douglas Haynes

1936-2016

Panajachel Series


Works from the last series of one of the most respected modernist painters in Canada. Douglas Haynes was recognized particularly for his reflective response to historical styles, which he mediated through his own abstract vocabulary.


I am not a landscape painter because I don't sit down and frame the scene and just say that is the picture. I am thinking of being up there, thinking of getting wet getting here. So I want the whole package, more the experience than the scenic look of it. (quote from Landscape as Muse, Episode 18 "Peace Athabasca Delta with Doug Haynes, 291 Film Co., 2005)

The paintings are about creating a presence. The central image is singular and straight forward as is a frontal portrait. It is kept simple and unobtrusive to force a dialogue across the total picture between color, surface, subtle inflection and illumination. The presence is evoked by the effect of the white canvas without relying on symbol or storyline.(Douglas Haynes, September 1995)

One of the most respected modernist painters in Canada, Douglas Haynes has been recognized particularly for his reflective response to historical styles mediated through the practice of contemporary abstraction.

With Doug's "split diamond" works of the late 1970s, he demonstrates a concern with reworking previous styles. According to critic Karen Wilkin, these paintings represent a novel reinterpretation of earlier post-painterly abstraction (Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Jack Bush) as a type of "portrait" through the use of a central geometric device.

By the early 1980s, he had exhausted the potential of the diamond and began to search for a new organizing principle for his paintings. Doug's search eventually led him to the analytic cubism of Picasso and Braque. In the paintings from this phase, he translates the faceted surfaces of cubist paintings into a weave of rhythmic "paint swipes" that knit together the surface of the canvas.

Doug was next inspired by a trip to Spain and a visit to see the El Greco paintings in the Cathedral of Toledo. In his Toledo Series and related works, including Paravicino III (1990), Doug allows the individual paint swipes to become more assertive and to become characters in their own right-abstract analogues of El Greco's dramatic portraits of Christ and the apostles.

“The reaction to [the art of] El Greco was certainly not for any reason of looking for an idea, nor for the use of a style, nor was it appropriation.  It was the recognition that concerns I had for a long time, combined with all the explorations, technical and formal, found a forebear in El Greco.  He had patiently been waiting for me to catch up (Douglas Haynes. The Toledo Series: 2).”

Doug was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, 1936.  He studied at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now the Alberta College of Art and Design) 1954-8 and the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Holland 1960-1.  Doug taught at the University of Alberta, Department of Art and Design for twenty-five years (1970-95). He worked full-time in his studio until a few years ago. Doug passed away in early 2016.

He participated in numerous group exhibitions since 1963 to the present, including:  The Fifth and Sixth Biennial of Canadian Painting: National Gallery of Canada 1963, 1965; The Canadian Canvas: Time Life Touring Exhibition, 1975; Certain Traditions: Painting and Sculpture of Canada and Great Britain, 1978; Abstraction x 4: Canada House, London England; Bonn, West Germany; Paris, France, 1985; and The Development of Abstract Painting in Canada: Calgary, Alberta, 1993.

He mounted many one man shows in public and private galleries including: Atlantic Provinces Art Circuit, 1967; Glenbow Alberta Institute Calgary, 1974; Cubism Revisited: A Five Year Survey, Edmonton Art Gallery, 1985; The Toledo Series, Edmonton, Calgary, Banff, Hamilton, 1992; Douglas Haynes: 25 years, Edmonton Art Gallery, 2000

Doug’s work is found in many public, corporate, and private collections in Canada and the United States, here are a select number: 

Public Collections: National Gallery of Canada; Edmonton Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Ontario; City of Edmonton; Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston; Alberta Foundation for the Arts; Canada Council Art Bank; Concordia University, Montreal; Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Charlottetown, P.E.I.; Glenbow Museum, Calgary; Government of Canada, Department of External Affairs, Ottawa; University of Alberta; University of Calgary; University of Lethbridge; Vancouver Art Gallery.

 “I do not see why one should be restricted to one view or one scale.”

291 Film Company, Regina, Saskatchewan produced a film, entitled Peace Athabasca Delta, with Doug in 2005.  The film is part of their Landscape as Muse Series for SCN and Bravo TV.

"I want more from art than to just be a visual thing. If it's just visual, then I've been wasting my time. There's got to be some spiritual thing there as well" (Douglas Haynes, 1998)


"I'm thinking about a lot of things when I'm painting, but mostly I'm just thinking about the painting.  I'm not painting a narrative.  It's up to the viewer to provide the dialogue."  (Doug Haynes in Paula Simons, "I may not know much about art, but I know what I like." in The Edmonton Journal, 22 September 2004, B1, B6).

"I find myself reacting to pictures like Titian's and El Greco's as if they are angels revisiting, messengers bearing truth, virtue, and equality - what painting can be." (Douglas Haynes. The Toledo Series, 7).

Alberta Centennial Medal for the Arts Recipient 

One of abstract artist Douglas Haynes's earliest childhood memories, and something that he always tries to capture in his paintings, is the feeling he got when his brother tossed a ball up in the air and it hung there, neither going up nor down, just for a moment, suspended against the blue prairie sky.  In his paintings, he tries to capture that sense of space and light. (Charlotte Cameron, "A Portrait of Abstract Painter Douglas Haynes" in Legacy Magazine, Spring 2004, 7.)