Phil Darrah

Mulhurst Bay, Alberta



In 1997 I moved my home and studio from the city of Edmonton to acreage in Mulhurst Bay. This remove, in conjunction with preparations for an exhibition in Greece, and the recent death of my mother, brought about significant changes in my approach and practice.

Up to this time I had considered myself to be exclusively an abstract painter. At first, I found myself in the process of “taking stock” of those painting issues and assumptions that had been a feature of earlier working periods and I began to re-examine some of them. The September 2002 exhibition in Greece was entitled “Recollections” and was the first public acknowledgement of this process.

I had begun to allow the things in my immediate environment that I habitually looked at with fondness, to have a greater presence in my paintings. The Purple Martin birdhouse in my yard is invariably the first thing I see as I look out of my bedroom window. This shape with it’s serrated edges, formed by the three tiers of platforms, that constitute the birdhouse, struck a visual chord for me and being similar, in my perception at least, to the serrated edges, of an architectural niche in a wall in Karnak in Luxor, which in ’89 had also had a powerful impact, began to be a starting point in the centre of each picture. It became for a while, a “given” and virtually all the paintings between 1998 and 2003 had this shape, usually in the centre, as a point of departure.

Another potent visual source is the antique Hindu Sarongi, which hangs in our living room, and is periodically used by both Isla and I, as a teaching/drawing tool. This amazingly proportioned instrument, with its positive and negative volumes, has over time, become combined or “mixed up” with the birdhouse as a central starting motif.

During the 2002 Greek tour of museums and later in 2004, I made a few drawings of both landscapes and more particularly, antique ceramics. In 2002 a white Lekythos, in the collection of Charles Politis, held great resonance for me and I made a few impromptu sketches on the backs of envelopes.

Some of these drawings subsequently led to and some were incorporated into, a painting based on this wonderful ceramic. I came to consider this painting a sort of double tribute. On the one hand, to the antique master ceramicist and painter and on the other, to Picasso, who I began to believe had stood before this very Lekythos, in admiration. So, some of my paintings, when derived from a very rich and resonant source, are a way of bringing in to my experience (much in the way that children “act out” scenarios and come to an understanding of “fixing” of situations), the essence of the subject. Later the painting process digests the literal and my personal abstract language takes over.

In 2004, I found myself most affected by the museum and architecture at Mycenae and upon my return, launched into a series of paper works and paintings based on some small ceramic figurines. These figurines have a simple striped decorative motif and as I had worked with stripes before, held natural interest and provided an increasingly persuasive and renewed preoccupation. In my current work I have begun to explore; the vertical column, the horizontal tableaux and have begun to use elements such as circles in combination with the bar structures.

This range of elements and the relationship of the bars to a “ground” differentiates the new work from the much earlier stripes. I have deliberately not spoken of tonality, coloration or light, as this is perhaps the most intuitive aspect of my work, be it semi figurative or digested abstraction. Suffice to say that it changes from darker tonality to lighter coloration in concert with the development of the drawn motifs.

Curriculum Vitae

Harrogate School of Art, Yorkshire, UK., 1957- 60

The Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London

1961 – 64. Awarded Honours

2018 “Raw Materials”, Dec 14 – Jan 20 – Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2017 “In and of Itself”, two person exhibit. April 6 – May 7 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.

2016 “Phil Darrah”. March 18 – April 5 – Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta

2015 “Over the Edge”. two person exhibit. Oct. 1 – Nov 3 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.

2014 “Phil Darrah / Recent Work”. Nov 22-Dec 9 – Peter Robertson Galley, Edmonton, Alberta

2014 “Phil Darrah / Painting and Drawing”. June 5 – July 1 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.

2011 “Songs and Anthems”. Oct. 15 – Peter Robertson Gallery Edmonton, Alberta

2009 “Full Circle”. Nov. 5 – Dec. 9 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.

2008 Philip Darrah “Excursions”. May 27 – Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta

2007 “Songs of Love” March 1 – Apr 3 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.

2005 “Renewal”, Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta

2003 “Recollections”, The Exhibition House, Falatados, Tinos, Greece

2017 “Holiday Hoopla”, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC

2016 “Poetica”, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC

2014 “Art on the Block” Art Gallery of Alberta

2014 “Wrapped in Color”, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC

2013 “Art on the Block” Art Gallery of Alberta

2013 “Bits and Pieces”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC

2012 “7 Years in The City”: Art from the AGA collection

2012 “Summer Tributes”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC

2011 “Deck the Walls”, Group Show, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC

2010 “Colour Salute”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC

2008 Seeing Through Modernism 1970 – 1985 (Part 2)

The University of Alberta FAB Gallery, Curated by Dr. Anne Whitelaw

Seeing Through Modernism (Part 1)

Art Gallery of Alberta, Guest curator Dr. Anne Whitelaw

2006 David Cantine and Phil Darrah, Vanderleelie Gallery

Abstraction – Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton

2005 “Grand Opening”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.

2004 “Edmonton Excels” Half a Century of Painters at the University of Alberta’s Department of Art & Design.

2002 “Flash Point”. Painting exhibit, FAB Gallery, U of A

“Just Dessert”. Paintings at the U of A Faculty Club

1999 Faculty Group Show. FAB Gallery, U of A

1995 “Works on Paper”, group exhibit, Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton

1994 Group Show, Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton

ECAS (Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society), Commerce Place, Edmonton

Trimark Investments Corporate Collections, EAG

1992 “Abstraction, Which Way From Here?” (From the collection of the Lethbridge University Art Gallery), Triangle Gallery, Calgary

ECAS Inaugural Exhibition, Commerce Place, Edmonton

1991 City Hall Acquisitions, City Hall, Edmonton

1990 Staff Show, FAB Gallery, Dept. Art & Design, U of Alberta

1989 Abstract Painting – Canadian & American, Virginia Christopher Gallery, Calgary

Fall Show, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton

Alberta Drawing, Edmonton Art Gallery

Acquisitions ’89, EAG

Alberta Painting, Edmonton Art Gallery

Faculty Show, FAB Gallery, U of Alberta

Edmonton ’90 Studio Watch, EAG

Art For All, fundraising exhibit, EAG

In House Exhibit, Clinical Sciences Building, U of A

1988 Art For All, fundraising exhibit, EAG

Studio Watch, curated by Russel Bingham

Department of Art & Design Staff Exhibition Part 2, FAB Gallery, U of A

Wescan Fund Raising Exhibition, Edmonton

1987 Collaboration in Clay, Bank of Montreal Building, Edmonton

In Touch With Abstract Art, McMullen Gallery,

Walter C. Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre, Edmonton

Faculty Exhibition, FAB Gallery, U of A. Edmonton

Alberta Art Foundation, New Acquisitions, EAG

Collaboration in Clay, travelling exhibit in conjunction with Calgary Ceramics

Contemporary Edmonton Art, curated by Russel Bingham. EAG

Art For All, fundraiser, EAG

Abstract Art in Edmonton. EAG

Studio Watch, selected by Ken Moffet, EAG

1986 Art For All, fundraiser, EAG

1985 Staff Exhibition, Dept. Art & Design, U of A

1984 Drawings, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton

Alberta Invitational Art Show, CNIB, Edmonton

60th Anniversary Exhibition, EAG

1983 Selected Gallery Artists, Wotjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton

1983 Alberta Invitational Art Show, CNIB, Edmonton

Fall Show, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton

Grand Opening, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton

My Favourite Picture Show, EAG

1982 Recent Accessions, EAG

Emerging Canadian Artists, Evelyn Aimis Fine Art, Toronto

The Threshold of Color, EAG

A Selected Group Exhibition, Downstairs Gallery, Edmonton

1981 Some Drawings by Some Albertans, EAG

Recent Acquisitions, Glenbow Museum, Calgary

1980 Group Show, Martin Gerard Gallery, Edmonton

1979 Abstract Paper Works, EAG Extension

Draw111, Students Union Gallery, U of A

1978 Faculty Show, Department of Art & Design, U of A

1977 U of A Staff Show, Ring House Gallery, U of A

New Abstract Art, EAG

1976 Drawing Exhibition, EAG Extension

Circa ’76, Latitude 53, Edmonton

1975 Alberta Contemporary Drawing, EAG

1973 Two Man Drawing Exhibit, Latitude 53, Edmonton

1972 Alberta Contemporary Drawings, EAG

1962 Young Contemporaries 62, ICA Gallery, London, UK

1961 Bradford Spring Exhibition, Walker Art Gallery, Bradford, UK

Ministry of Public Buildings & Works, UK

Glen bow Museum, Calgary

Alberta Art Gallery, Edmonton

Alberta Foundation For The Arts. Edmonton

Bonderove & Co., Edmonton

Fort McMurray Community College

First City Trust, Edmonton

Shoctor, Hill, Mousseau & Starkman, Edmonton

Apple Computer Corp. Edmonton

Canada Council Art Bank

Cineplex Odeon Corp. West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton

City Hall, City of Edmonton

The Treasury Branch, Edmonton Centre

Lethbridge University Art Gallery Collection

Doreen Sulyma Professional Corp. Edmonton

Canadian Airlines International

Lombard Odier, Hong Kong

The Fraser / Nag Partnership, Dubai, U.A.E.

Dr. Jerrold Diamond Professional Corp. Edmonton

Dr. L. Russet Professional Corp. Edmonton

UBC. Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, BC. “The White Piano”

1985 The Cineplex Odeon Corporation, “Western Projections”, WEM, Edmonton

1996 The Francis Winspear Music Centre Foundation. “Calix”, Edmonton

“Cineplex Odeon”. The First Ten Years. A Celebration of Contemporary Canadian Art.

Written by David Burnett.

“Abstract Painting In Canada” Roald Nesgaard.

Published by Douglas & McIntyre, 2007

1972, Research Grant, U of A

1974, Travel Grant, U of A

1982, Canada Council Travel Grant

2003, SAS Travel Grant, U of A

1983 The Emma Lake Workshop, U of Sask

1986 Collaboration In Clay, The Works, Edmonton

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