Important Works by Philip Surrey

With the recent announcement of the generous donation of a fine watercolour by Edward Hopper to the Art Gallery of Ontario, the only Hopper in a Canadian museum, our presentation is timely.  
We have long promoted our opinion that Philip Surrey’s contribution to the canon of Canadian art is comparable to Hopper’s in American art. (I confess that Hopper is my favourite American artist dating back to my American art course in college in 1972.) While stylistically their artwork is without any similarity, many of their personal habits were extraordinary in their similarity; e.g. tortuously slow workers, prone to depression, movie goers, and  “famously taciturn” in refusing to explain their work.  
Over the years I have cut out sentences describing Edward Hopper and pasted them in a Philip Surrey file.  About Edward Hopper, Philip French wrote in The Guardian “He created a world of loneliness, isolation and quiet anguish that we call Hopperesque [1].  This “world” in the context of our art is absolutely applicable to Philip Surrey. One might consider Jean Paul Lemieux and Alex Colville as appropriate purveyors of similar psychology. It is primarily in the urban theatre that Surrey’s world plays. Lloyd Goodrich (1897-1987), a distinguished art historian and former director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, wrote of Hopper’s paintings representing “[the] penetrating feeling of the vast impersonality of the city of the loneliness that can be experienced most intensely among millions” [2]. This is Philip Surrey. 
Philip Surrey’s world is one of intrigue and mystery. The allure of the unknown titillates the viewer. Looking at his paintings, one asks oneself, “What happens next?” Fully 75 years ago, reviewing Surrey’s first solo exhibition for the Montreal Standard, Robert Ayre wrote of Surrey’s paintings, “.... haunted… the loneliness and secrecy of the night …. Created by still posed compositions, by somber colours, by mysterious shadows here and there and eerie light.”
We invite admirers of Canadian urban art to look at our presentation with these thoughts in mind. We encourage your acquisition from this important selection of Philip Surrey works of art.  
Alan Klinkhoff 
April 26, 2023
[1] Philip French, "From Nighthawks to the shadows of film noir," The Guardian, 25 April 2004, retrieved from: 
[2]  Lloyd Goodrich, Edward Hopper Retrospective Exhibition (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1950), 9.
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