Ken Lochhead

About the Artist

Ken Lochhead was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1926 and died in 2006. He is well known in the history of Canadian art for his experimental works and for being a member of the Regina Five. The Regina Five, was a group of five artists, that also included Doug Morton, Arthur MacKay, Ted Godwin and Ronald Bloore, who explored abstraction in the 1960s and were leaders in the modern art world at that time.

In 1944, Lochhead attended Summer Art School in Kingston, Ontario at Queen’s University. From 1945-48 he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. After completing his university training, he taught at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Ontario for one year and in 1950 he moved to Regina, Saskatchewan. He took a job as the Director of the School of Art, University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus (currently known as the University of Regina). While there, he was responsible for founding the Emma Lake Workshops. This innovative summer workshop initiative greatly contributed to the development of  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  art in Saskatchewan and Canada.

When he left Regina in 1964, he moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba and taught at the University of Manitoba for nine years. He spent two years teaching at York University in Toronto, Ontario and from 1975-1989 he completed his teaching career at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ontario. Throughout his career as an educator he continued to maintain a successful studio practice.

Kate Davis, the director of the MacKenzie Art Gallery (until 2009) states about his impact there, “He continued to be very connected to Saskatchewan in many ways and really is a significant part of our art history.” About the man she comments, “He was generous, elegant, graceful, handsome and funny. He was such a generous  mentorA wise and faithful counselor or monitor. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  In art terms, an older established artist or teacher who takes a personal interest in the career of a younger artist and teaches, supports and advocates for the younger person.  to so many people as an artist, as a teacher and as a friend.” (Regina Leader Post, 2006)  For his distinguished career in the arts, Lochhead received the Governor General’s Award in 2006 and The Order of Canada in 1971 . In 2005 the Mackenzie Art Gallery had a major  retrospectiveAn exhibition of work by a senior artist representing all the stages of the artist’s career.  of his work.

Ted Fraser writes about Lochhead and his work,

If there is an aspect of the man and his work that is immediately recognizable it is without a doubt a radiance and selflessness that is one with nature. His art is spontaneous and direct in attack, romantic, humorous, and full of life…Except for Jack Bush, I can think of no one who has made colour speak so eloquently and as well, very few contemporaries who have rivalled Lochhead’s innate command of the gestural line. Apart from the clarity of his colour, the substantial control of Lochhead’s line reminds one of  ZenA Chinese and Japanese school of Buddhism which claims that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition rather than through scriptures. (Artlex.com)  Buddhist scroll painters. Whether brush, roller, or spray can, Lochhead’s line expanding into form is capable of encompassing in itself much of what can be said about the world and our place in it. (Fraser, 1977)

Interview with Kate Davis - Ken Lochhead and the Regina Five
Interview with Timothy Long - The Regina Five
Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning