When Philip Surrey was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1982, the citation read:|
"Ever since settling in Montreal in 1937, and becoming a founding member of the Contemporary Arts Society, he has been the leading exponent of urban landscape painting in Canada. His Montreal street scenes convey an emotive vision of the modern city, with its anonymous crowds and individual solitudes. His expressive style and a poetic humanitarianism constitute a unique contribution to Canadian art."
Surrey started to paint seriously at the age of sixteen and, from the first, urban life was his dominant subject: a watercolour dated May 1, 1972 has street lights and a café window reflected in the wet pavement of Portage Avenue in Winnipeg. During five decades of painting, he found his own way to being contemporary by seeing Montreal, as Guy Viau observed in Jacques de Roussan’s Philip Surrey (Collection Panorama, 1968) "as a theatre and himself as director it its anonymous actors . . . His people . . . submit like good creatures to the impersonal signals of traffic lights and crossings. Their thoughts are their own, like their loneliness. But again and again as he walks through the streets of Montreal, he watches its people. He studies their goings and comings . . . as they pass and meet. But not with a judging eye. An eye that feels at one with them. A fraternal eye."...
Source:Philip Surrey Retrospective Exhibition Catalogue, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff (2004).
Philip Surrey Exhibitions at Klinkhoff
31st Annual Retrospective Exhibition
September 18 - October 2, 2004
and Exhibition Le peintre dans la ville (Musée d'art contemporain, Montreal Oct.28 - Nov. 28, 1971 and Centre Culturel Canadien, Paris 20 January - 20 March, 1971)