Elizabeth McIntosh

Painter Elizabeth McIntosh (b. 1967, Simcoe, Ontario) creates brightly colored, large-scale paintings that hover playfully at the edge of legibility.

Her works muddle figure-ground relationships and embrace unresolved and ambiguous compositions—inviting viewers to experience the pleasure of puzzling over an unfamiliar visual landscape.

“They can flip back and forth as you're looking at them,” McIntosh explains. “In one instance, it may allude to something in the world that we're familiar with and at another moment they may be shapes that only have relationships within that painting. In the process of viewing, you could go one way or the other. I like how that ambiguity can open up much wider possibilities for each viewer.” While her medium is oil painting, she draws from the process of collage by joining disparate elements in evocative juxtapositions.

McIntosh’s working method is a seesaw between planning and improvisation. She often starts with her own doodles and/or quotations from art historical sources—cropping them, enlarging them, and using them as the building blocks of her painterly compositions. McIntosh might use an unrecognizable snippet of a Matisse or Klee painting or a magnified fragment of her own watercolor or marker drawing. These exaggerated lines and daubs amplify, interrogate, and find enjoyment in the building blocks of modernist painting.

In addition to such preparations, McIntosh makes room for intuitive and improvisational ways of applying paint to canvas, embracing the idea of painting as thinking. McIntosh’s paintings are often quite large, about the height of a body. She explores the ways that physical and tactile traces of human touch can communicate with audiences differently than digital images do. In her work, the mark functions as a record of the artist’s own embodiment and physical presence. McIntosh puts painterly process on display, encouraging us to find gratification in unexpected formal combinations and enigmatic visual worlds.

Artist: Studio

Artworks

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Landscape,

2023,

73 × 67 inches (185.42 × 170.18 cm)

Oil and Flashe on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Geraniums,

2023,

66 × 51 inches (167.64 × 129.54 cm)

Oil on linen

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Tender Walk,

2023,

Oil on linen,

62 × 75 ½ in (157.48 × 191.77 cm)

Elizabeth McIntosh,

2023,

Oil and Flashe on linen,

57 × 51 in (144.78 × 129.54 cm)

 

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Inside a Picture,

2022,

75 × 83 in (190.5 × 210.82 cm)

Oil on linen

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Book of Lines,

2022,

67 × 73 in (170.18 × 185.42 cm)

Oil on linen

 

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Injury,

2021,

Oil on linen,

75 × 85 in (190.5 × 215.9 cm)

 

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Snake Boy,

2019,

69 × 58 in (175.26 × 147.32 cm)

Oil on canvas, Image courtesy of Oakville Galleries

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Sea Plants,

2019,

39 × 31 ⅜ in (99.06 × 79.6925 cm)

Oil on canvas, Image courtesy of Oakville Galleries

Elizabeth McIntosh,

To A and C,

2018,

78 × 63 ½ in (198.12 × 161.29 cm)

Flashe and oil on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Heart,

2017,

78 × 73 in (198.12 × 185.42 cm)

Oil on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Equation,

2016,

75 × 90 in (190.5 × 228.6 cm)

Oil on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Windows,

2016,

75 × 85 in (190.50 × 215.90 cm)

Acrylic and oil on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Beach Blanket,

2016,

75 × 85 in (190.50 × 215.90 cm)

Oil on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Stars and Leopards,

2016,

75 × 70 in (190.50 × 177.80 cm)

Oil on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Goldfish,

2016,

75 × 70 in (190.5 × 177.8 cm)

Oil on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Black Dresses,

2016,

85 × 75 in (215.9 × 190.5 cm)

Oil on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Sleepy Dust,

2016,

61 × 51 in (154.94 × 129.54 cm)

Oil on canvas

Elizabeth McIntosh,

Teapots,

2016,

75 × 85 in (190.50 × 215.90 cm)

Oil on canvas

Installation Views

Installation view Grow Up, Tanya Leighton, Berlin, Germany, 2024

Exhibitions

Elizabeth McIntosh, A Ball is for Throwing, May 26 – Jul 1, 2022
Elizabeth McIntosh, Bricks are Heavy, Sep 8 – Oct 23, 2016

Press

Natasha Gural "Vivid Colors Erupt At Frieze, Large-Scale Abstract And Figurative Works By Women Artists Wow." Forbes May 18, 2023

Blake Gopnik "What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries Right Now.." The New York Times June 22, 2022

Mario Vasquez "GALLERY ROUNDS: Elizabeth McIntosh." Artillery May 29, 2021

Chris Hampton "With and Without a Plan: Play and the Paintings of Elizabeth McIntosh." National Gallery of Canada Magazine September 18, 2019

Jasmine Reimer "Night Sweat: Elizabeth McIntosh at Tanya Leighton Gallery." Peripheral Review June 26, 2019

Andrew Witt "Painting and Obstinacy." Peripheral Review May 9, 2018

"Sticky Fingers’ at Arsenal Contemporary New York." Blouin Artinfo August 2017

Lee Plested "Elizabeth McIntosh, Monique Mouton, Silke Otto-Knapp." Artforum September 2017

April Thompson "Vancouver Special and the Issue with Local Surveys." Canadian Art February 14, 2017

Andrew Witt "Eccentric, Polymorphous, Abstract: Vancouver Art and other Mythologies of the Near-Future." The Mainlander January 14, 2017

ArtSpace Editors "Northern Exposure: 3 Game-Changing Canadian Painters You Need to Know." Artspace December 31, 2016

Barry Schwabsky "Elizabeth McIntosh." Artforum December 2016

"Elizabeth McIntosh – Why I Paint." Phaidon Agenda November 2016

Mitch Speed "Strange Forever: Mitch Speed on Elizabeth McIntosh." Turps Banana July 2014

Robert Enright "Divided Pathways: Painting’s Choice | An Interview with Elizabeth McIntosh." Border Crossings 2014

Monika Szeweczk "Persian Rose, Chartreuse Muse, Vancouver Grey." Artforum Summer, 2014

Michael Turner "A Look at Painting as Journey in Vancouver." Canadian Art April 9, 2014

Mitch Speed "Different Uses." 2013

Anne Cottingham "The Opening - Elizabeth Mcintosh." Vancouver Is Awesome October 27, 2011

Aaron Peck "https://www.artforum.com/picks/elizabeth-mcintosh-27072." Artforum December 27, 2010

Jan Verwoert "Softedge Is Hardcore." ECU Press 2010

Monika Szeweczk "Untitled (Works on Paintings on Paper)." ECU Press 2010

Gary Michael Dault "Elizabeth McIntosh at Goodwater." The Globe and Mail June 6, 2009

Gary Michael Dault "Birth, New Art." The Globe and Mail November 3, 2006

Ken Johnson "Elizabeth McIntosh." The New York Times May 3, 2001

CV

b. 1967, Simcoe, Canada

Lives and works in Vancouver, Canada

  • Education

    • 1996

      Master of Fine Arts, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, United Kingdom

    • 1992

      Bachelor of Fine Arts, York University, Toronto, Canada

  • Selected Solo Exhibitions

    • 2024

      Grow Up, Tanya Leighton, Berlin, Germany,

    • 2022

      A Ball is for Throwing, Canada, New York, NY

    • 2021

      Family, Tanya Leighton Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

    • 2020

      Show Up, Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada

      Mom or Mother, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, Canada

    • 2019

      Night Sweat, Tanya Leighton, Berlin, Germany

    • 2017

      Islands, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, Canada