Born in Calgary in 1928, Harry Mitsuo Kiyooka is an accomplished painter and printmaker. A Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of Calgary with tenure of 27 years, Harry holds both undergraduate and masters degrees in Arts and Fine Arts. As an artist, Harry is a generational bridge figure. Works from the early years of his career position him prominently within the international geometric abstraction style, while his 1980s Venezia series align him with the artists and aesthetics of the School of Paris.

Education

1953 – Bachelor of Education, University of Alberta
1954 – Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Manitoba
1956 – Masters of Arts, Michigan State University
1957 – Masters of Fine Arts, University of Colorado
1958 – 1961 – Study in Italy on Canada Council Scholarships

Professional Experience

 In the 1960s Calgary, abstract art as a form of expression was at its best in the paintings of artists who, like Harry, began looking beyond local painting traditions – landscape and other regional subject matter – as a reaction to the impact of international developments (Abstract Expressionism) and by rising ambitions strengthened by travel and study abroad. Harry at the time stepped forth with optically rich oil paintings featuring band-aid strips of colour (Mary Beth Laviolette).

Harry travelled and worked extensively in Europe, Japan and the United States. In 1961, Harry returned to Calgary to assume a teaching position at the new University of Alberta, Calgary campus. He retired In 1988 after 27 years with the rank of Professor Emeritus of Art. He has been the recipient of the Canada Council Senior Fellowship and various awards such as First Prize for Painting at the 10th Winnipeg Show and the Jacox Award-Joint Prize, All Alberta Exhibition from the Edmonton Art Gallery. He has exhibited his artwork in many national and international exhibitions.

Selected exhibitions include:

6th Biennial of Canadian Art;
85th R.C.A. Winter Exhibition;
Montreal Canadian Printmakers Showcase in 1973;
Spectrum Canada in 1976;
Olympic Games, Montreal;
25 Year Retrospective Exhibition,1978, Alberta College of Art Gallery in Calgary;
Tercera Bienal Americana de Grabado, Chile;
Exposition Internationales de Gravure, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia;
Primera Bienal de Artes Gráficas de América, Colombia;
First International Biennial Exhibition of Graphic Art and Multiples, Spain; Third Exposition Internationale de Gravure in Frechen, Germany.

For the past 30 years, Harry has served on local, provincial and national boards such as the Canadian Conference of the Arts, the Royal Canadian Academy, the Alberta Society of Artists, the Alberta Art Foundation, Calgary Allied Arts Centre, the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation and the Calgary Contemporary Arts Society.

Harry is a founding member of the Calgary Contemporary Arts Society (1982), Life Member of the Alberta Society of Artists and member of the Royal Canadian Academy.

Most recently, Harry was named Honorary Masters of the Arts by the Alberta University of the Arts (formerly Alberta College of Arts and Design), and awarded with the 125th Anniversary Medal of Confederation for his contribution to the community in establishing the Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts (1988) in Calgary. In 1996, Harry was the recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Alberta College of Art and Design for his contributions to the visual arts.

Artwork by Harry Kiyooka

Paintings and prints are part of an outstanding collection of art created by Harry Kiyooka.

A series of paintings created in the 1960s by the artist.

Painted in the decade beginning in 1970, the abstracted landscape Aegean Series, inspired by the Aegean Sea, feature lucent colors sprayed on to the canvas, a relatively new technique at the time. The diaphanous blue of the sky, or perhaps the sea, and the iconic elements reminiscent of Greek architecture combine to give a sense of place that is forever timeless.
A series of reflective paintings by Harry Kiyooka
The Venezia works, which include paintings, sketches, watercolours and photography, were created in the 1980s and 1990s. These, however, don’t constitute a series exactly. Instead represent a beloved subject which the artist returned to over and over again, over an extended period of time and are rather representational, with a clearly recognizable subject matter, rendered in a vigorous style that can be described as a cross between impressionism and expressionism. 

Harry spent three memorable and formative years (1958 to 1961) as a young artist in Italy, returning many times from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Venice was a source of endless fascination for him, and his youthful rapture became a lifelong obsession. He was enamoured with the city — its stunning palaces, churches, museums, bridges and canals, and especially its light. Kiyooka admired the Venetian artists of the Renaissance, like Titian, Giorgione, Tintoretto and Veronese; the 18th century veduti painters Canaletto and Guardi; and Turner and Monet, who captured the mysterious and shifting beauty of the city in the 19th century. Like them, Kiyooka painted the famous sites at different times of day and in variable conditions, including the Grand Canal with its resplendent palazzi and the Piazza San Marco.