Lionel Thomas

 Born in Toronto, Ontario April 3, 1915
 Died in Sechelt, British Columbia May 6, 2005

Lionel Thomas was known for his mosaic murals and public art sculptures commissioned by universities, churches, provincial governments and private businesses in British Colombia and other provinces. Prior to his career in public art, he created semi-abstract paintings in oil, tempera and other media, and later created intaglio etchings and enameled copper plaques based on astronomy.

Born and raised in Toronto Thomas studied figurative art at a number of schools in the city including the John Russell School of Fine Arts (1933-35), the Ontario College of Art (1936-37), and the Karl Godwin School of Illustration (1937). In 1940 Thomas and  his wife and fellow artist Patricia (nee Simons) moved to Vancouver where in 1940 Thomas began his teaching career at the Vancouver School of Art.

 In the summer of 1947, Thomas studied modernist aesthetics and design at the graduate level at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, Provincetown, Massachusetts. Supported by a scholarship from the Emily Carr Trust Fund. He returned to graduate studies in the summer of 1949, at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, with abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. There he also studied principles of constructivism and sculpture with Ernst Mundt. These studies greatly influenced his abstract use of colour to create spatial effects on canvas and also informed his sense of design when creating modern sculptural commissions for architecture.

From the 1940s to 1960s, Thomas exhibited his paintings extensively in Canada and internationally; at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1949), Hart House, Toronto, (1950), Grand Central Galleries, NY, (1952), the National Gallery of Canada (1953), the Sao Paulo Biennial (1954), Seoul, Korea, the Seattle Art Museum (1954), and the University of San Francisco (1960) amongst others.

In 1973, Thomas began a series of enameled copper plaques that interpreted elements of the universe, such as galaxies, solar systems and constellations. He created designs incorporating astronomical signs and symbols in brilliant colours, some overlaid with gold and silver. He also produced a series of intaglio etchings inspired by these themes.

In 2005, CAUSA (Collective for Advanced and Unified Studies in the Visual Arts) organized an exhibition featuring Lionel and Patricia Thomas' works at the Belkin Satellite, in association with the University of British Columbia's Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver.

1981   Elected member of the Accademia Italia degli Arti e del Lavoro, Parma, Italy
1956   Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Gold Medal
1952   Pacific Northwest Artists Exhibition Award, Seattle, WA, USA
1949   Emily Carr Trust Fund, Scholarship
1963    Sir Thomas More, relief mural, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK
1958    Untitled (Symbols for Education), mosaic relief, Brock Hall Annex, University of British Columbia,
                Vancouver, BC
1958    Mosaic mural, St. Paul's College, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
1958    Mosaic, Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Calgary, AB
1957    St Mark and the Lion, relief, St. Mark's Theological College (Duke Hall), University of British Columbia,
                Vancouver, BC
1957    Flight of Canadian Geese, bronze fountain, Edmonton City Hall, Edmonton, AB
1957    Origin and Evolution of the Alphabet, interior mosaic mural and Symbols of the Cuneiforms, exterior
                sculpture, Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver, BC

Selected Group Exhibitions
1965    Art in British Columbia: Heritage and Promise, University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery,
                Vancouver, BC
1960    Art in Architecture, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley, CA
1955    First Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Painting, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
1954    Tenth Inter-American Conference, Caracas, Venezuela
1954    Sao Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo, Brazil
1953    Progressive Painters of Western Canada, University of Manitoba, Fort Gary Campus, MB
1952    Thirty-Eighth Annual Exhibition of Canadian Painting, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
1952    Annual Spring Exhibition (juried show), The Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Montreal, QC
1950-52    Canadian Group of Painters, National Tour
1943    Twenty-Ninth Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Selected Collections
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON
Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL, USA
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC
University of Victoria, Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, Victoria, BC
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
West Vancouver Museum, West Vancouver, BC

Selected Solo Exhibitions
2010    Lionel Thomas: Abstractions 1949-1990, The West Vancouver Museum, West Vancouver, BC
2005    Defying Depiction: The Distant Practice of Lionel and Patricia Thomas, Belkin Satellite Gallery,
                Vancouver, BC
1989    The Constellations of the Celestial Sphere, H.R. MacMillan Planetarium, Vancouver, BC
1988    Saga of the Salmon Series and Constellations, The Arts Centre and Hunter Gallery, Sunshine Coast
                Arts Council, Sechelt, BC
1977    Myths, Legends and Lores, Centennial Museum, Vancouver, BC
1976    The Constellations 88, Exposition Galleries, Vancouver, BC
1973    University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
1973    Universityof Calgary Art Gallery, Calgary, AB
1953    Toronto Art Gallery, Toronto, ON
1951    Recent Paintings, Fine Arts Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
1951    Calgary Allied Arts Council, Calgary, AB
1948    Drawings and Paintings, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1948    Fine Arts Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
1947    Fine Arts Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
1942    Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC