Excerpt taken From:
A Concise History of Canadian Painting – Third Edition
Written by Dennis Reid
One more painter who first emerged in the seventies must be mentioned. BEN WOOLFITT (b. 1946) is from Oxbow, Saskatchewan, and moved to Toronto in 1965 to enroll in York University. He dropped out after a year ad became interested in the local art scene and what he saw on visits to New York. His only real training was in intense creative workshops he encountered in 1969 after joining Therafields, a semi-co-operative psychotherapeutic organization in Toronto. His painting was inspired by the leading colour-field painters of the day, and from the beginning he used tools such as sponges and paint rollers to apply acrylic paint. Olga Korper gave him a show at her Gallery O in October 1974, and he showed with her again in 1976 and in the spring of 1977. He had opened a painting school in 1972, Woolfitt’s School of Contemporary Painting, which ran until 1979; had started another business, Woolfitt’s Art Supplies, the year before; and increasingly turned to working on paper during the limited time now had in the studio. Exhibitions fell right off during the eighties and nineties. He purchased a large property on Queen Street West in 1997 to house his growing art supplies business and was able to fit inn an ample studio as well. He began working with a trowel to manipulate large quantities of acrylic paint on canvas and also experimented with layering paint on a flat canvas over extended periods of time to build up a rich, complexly hued and toned surface. He moved quickly from strength to strength, and by the end of the decade he clearly was one of the procedural painters in Toronto whose work has to be seen.
Published in 2012