Discovering Oscar Cahén: The Warrior
A documentary film by Howard Brull
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
1006 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1M2
Doors: 6:00 p.m.
Screening: 7:00 p.m.
Q & A: 8:00 p.m.
To reserve tickets, click here.
TrépanierBaer and Feheley Fine Arts, in collaboration with the Cahén archives, is pleased to announce the Canadian premiere of “Discovering Oscar Cahén: The Warrior”, a documentary film by Howard Brull. This documentary presents an insightful observation on the life and career of Oscar Cahén, and his pivotal painting, The Warrior (1956) among his other remarkable works.
The documentary, “Discovering Oscar Cahén: The Warrior”, features commentaries by Dr. Jaleen Grove, Sarah Milroy, and Sarah Angel, Yves Trépanier, Pat Feheley and artist David Urban, among others. Many of Cahén’s works are concerned with the human condition, intuitive abstractionism, and the “expression of thriving and surviving” in Canada’s cultural milieu.
In conjunction with the documentary, Feheley Fine Arts and Yves Trépanier are pleased to announce a new exhibition of Oscar Cahén works at Feheley Fine Arts, opening on Tuesday, November 21st, until December 16th, 2023. The exhibition, together with the film provides a rare opportunity to gain insight into Cahén’s extraordinary life. His emotive, bold, full of life artworks continue to influence the Canadian art landscape today.
About the artist:
Oscar Cahén was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1916. He studied art during his teens, in Dresden Paris, and Berlin and by 1937, worked and taught at the Rotter School of Advertising and Art in Prague, Czech Republic.
Several days before the Nazi occupation of Prague in 1939 Oscar and his mother Eugenie made a narrow escape to England. He arrived in Québec from England in 1940, as an unwilling refugee and interned in a prisoner of war camp near Sherbrooke, Québec. Released in 1942, Oscar worked for the Montréal Standard. In 1944 he moved to Toronto, where he began his career as an illustrator. In just a few short years, Oscar made a name for himself as an art director, cutting-edge illustrator, and painter.
Oscar’s graphic flair made him one of Canada’s most celebrated and sought-after illustrators. His CV lists no less than 37 Maclean’s magazine cover illustrations, and his illustrations appeared in 140 of their 192 issues.In 1953, he co-founded the renowned artists’ collective Painters Eleven alongside some of the most significant names in Canadian art: Jack Bush, Ray Mead, Harold Town, Alexandra Luke and Kazuo Nakamura, to name a few.
The list of exhibitions between 1953 and 1954 is astounding. Oscar’s work was featured in over twenty-two (22) exhibitions including the Canadian representation of the 2nd Biennale de São Paulo Brazil (1953-54). His influence was widespread. At the height of it all, Oscar’s career was cut short; he tragically passed away in an automobile accident in 1956. Almost all his work completely disappeared from public view.
“Never is it easy to explain the complexities that nurture the sudden emergence of an art movement which breaks abruptly with the restrictive pressures of its past. However, there is no question whatsoever that Oscar Cahén had a notably significant impact upon the development of the young men who were to group together as Painters Eleven. He was, after all, a worldly experienced man whose technical facility as an artist was surpassed, if possible, by his vitality as a companion. For a young Canadian dealing with the conflict of breaking with the literal representational traditions of his immediate past, Oscar Cahén’s agility in moving back and forth between literal drawings and bold abstract paintings must have been a consolation as well as an example.Who could doubt the strength of his abstract compositions in which form, and space were dealt with in new terms even as colour was handled with a flamboyance that must have almost seemed, at times, a joyful scandal. This new Canadian indeed made a great contribution to his new home…
No-one can deny that the art historical fact of the importance of his influence being put aside, Oscar Cahén was essentially a splendid imaginative figure.”
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1968
Image Credit: Oscar Cahén, Toronto, ca. 1953