Barbara Edwards Contemporaryis pleased to present our first solo exhibition by renowned artist, Sorel Etrog (1933 – 2014). Sorel Etrog: The Existentialist explores the influence of existential philosophy on the artist and the recurrence of visual metaphors depicting the dichotomies of freedom and restraint, despair and hope, and life and death, which were so central to existentialist thought. Etrog’s early life experience as a Romanian Jew fleeing persecution in Nazi-allied Romania, clearly had an impact on his understanding of the world as absurd and meaningless, in which the individual’s freedom of consciousness and choice of action were the only variable.

One of Etrog’s most profound expressions of existential ambiguity is the “Link” motif. The link for Etrog symbolized movement as a metaphor for life itself, but being that the links are connected, they hold the promise of freedom and restraint at once. This contradiction was one that fascinated existential writers and thinkers such as Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco, Etrog’s friends and collaborators. In developing his visual metaphor further, the artist incorporated the “Hinge” as a conduit of movement as in Steptease (1976). The hinge also lends itself to the expression of the interiority of the human psyche as in Introvert (1975-76).

Born in Romania, Sorel Etrog immigrated to Canada in 1963 and quickly established himself as one of North America’s pre-eminent sculptors. His career spanned over 50 years and involved collaborations with Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, John Cage and Marshall McLuhan. Etrog represented Canada at the 1966 Venice Biennale and received many important commissions including EXPO ‘67, Sunlife Centre Toronto, and Olympic Park Seoul Korea. In 1968, he designed the Canadian Film Award more commonly known as the Genie. He was appointed Member of the Order of Canada in 1994 and was made a Chevalier of Arts and Letters by the Government of France in 1996. Etrog’s work resides in a number of permanent collections including the Tate Museum in London, the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, The Tel-Aviv Museum, The Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada.

Barbara Edwards Contemporary is the exclusive representative of the Estate of Sorel Etrog.

Images © The Estate of Sorel Etrog

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Sorel Etrog Steptease
Steptease, 1976
bronze, edition of 7, 52” high
Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario

Sorel Etrog Gemini
Gemini, 1976
bronze, edition of 5, 51” x 25” x 18"

Sorel Etrog Pistoya
Pistoya, 1976
bronze, edition of 7, 59.5" high

Sorel Etrog Double Key Head II Study
Double Key Head II Study, 1969
bronze, edition of 10, 11.25" high

Sorel Etrog Magic Urn
Magic Urn, 1976
bronze, edition of 7, 5.25" high

Sorel Etrog Study for Family Group
Study for "Family Group", 1974-75
pastel and charcoal on paper, 12" x 18"

Sorel Etrog Untitled drawing
Untitled, 1969
charcoal on paper, 14" x 16.75"

Sorel Etrog untitled drawing
Untitled, 1963-70
pastel and charcoal on paper, 24" x 18"