John Gould

John Gould, "Don Quixote Wearing Bird Visor", 1979, lithograph, 57/100. Gift of Ingi Gould in memory of John Gould, 2015. Photo: Andre Beneteau

John Gould
Drawn Image: Selected Works, 1959-1979 (book) with Don Quixote Wearing Bird Visor
Lithograph, both edition 57/100, 1979
Gift of Ingi Gould in memory of John Gould, 2015

John Howard Gould was a regional artist known internationally for his technically accomplished and deeply evocative drawing practice. Born in Toronto in 1929 and raised in an artistic family, Gould studied drawing and painting at the Ontario College of Art from 1948 to 1952. He travelled to Europe in the 1950s and studied at the Academie Julienne in Paris. In 1957, he began working for the CBC as a scene painter, and by 1960 won the Elizabeth T. Greenshield’s Fellowship for figurative painting. During the mid-1960s, Gould began to add a new dimension to his drawings by filming them and adding narrative elements and sound effects. Within a decade he created several films based on his impressions of people and cultures he encountered while travelling throughout Canada, Mexico, Japan and Peru. In the 1970s, Gould moved to Waubaushene with his family and began teaching as well as playing clarinet in the Fig Leaf Jazz Band. In 1996 Gould suffered a stroke that affected the right side of his body, and his skills as a draughtsman had to be re-learned, resulting in a technically simplified but expressively intense final period to his work. Gould died in Barrie in January of 2010.

The MacLaren recently acquired a limited edition copy of John Gould’s book, Drawn Image, with a corresponding lithograph, Don Quixote Wearing Bird Visor (both 1979). This self-portrait depicts Gould as the title character of Miguel de Cervantes’ The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605). Quixote is Spanish literature’s most famous romantic: his adventures begin in an obsession with chivalry and a self-assigned quest to right wrongs and bring justice to the land. While his journey is more farcical than heroic, Quixote nonetheless represents a pure character in a compromised world. Critic David Balzer notes: “As his many drawings of Don Quixote imply, Gould was a populist modernist. An artist with a strong vocational pull, he unabashedly embraced the romance of his life’s work.” While Don Quixote Wearing Bird Visor is strongly personal and might speak to a sense of naïve romanticism, it nonetheless embraces the theatrical, performative quality of many of his portraits. Drawn Image, the accompanying monograph, also demonstrates the confidence and showmanship of an artist in his prime.