Joseph Drapell, an important abstract painter and contemporary of the Painters Eleven, was born in Czechoslovakia in 1940. In the wake of World War II and the totalitarian system of the Soviet Union, Drapell immigrated to Canada, arriving in Halifax in 1966. From 1968-1970 he studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Like Alex Cameron and other artists in John Mann’s Collection, Drapell was also greatly influenced by Canadian artist Jack Bush and American critic Clement Greenberg.
During his studies, he began to develop his signature technique of applying paint with a broad spreading device attached to a movable support in even and continuous semi-mechanical sweeps. This method creates a cyclical pattern of diverging streaks, an untraditional way of applying paint to a canvas that recalls Jackson Pollok’s splatters. Drapell’s work maintains a spiritual connection to nature and the landscape, likely inspired by his regular visits to Georgian Bay.
Drapell is affiliated with the Emma Lake Workshops movement and taught his own workshop at the artist retreat in 1988. He was also a member of The New New Painters Group, a group of artists from both the United States and Canada, who have exhibited together internationally since the 1990s and view themselves as successors of Abstract Expressionism and colour field. Drapell and the group are known for their exploration of the possibilities of gel mediums as well as metallic and pearlescent paints, which add fantastic dimensions of light to their work.
Drapell achieved his first artistic breakthrough in 1974 with the Great Spirit Paintings at Jared Sable Gallery in Toronto. Since then he has participated in numerous solo exhibitions throughout Canada. His work is included in private and public Canadian and international collections, for example, at the The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery, Prague, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Published on October 20, 2022
MEET THE ARTIST Joseph Drapell
Join us on Saturday, October 29, 2022 from 2 - 5 pm for the opening day of RE-INVENTING LANDSCAPE and meet the artist Joseph Drapell featuring 40 years of his work from 1982 to 2022. "Exhibiting art is not always a commercial act; it can be an act of war against conventional forces to...Read More
Published on October 24, 2020
MEET THE ARTISTS Joseph Drapell and Henry Saxe
Join us on opening day Saturday, September 19, 2020 from 2 to 5 pm and meet two of Canada’s distinctive established artists who have challenged contemporary art discourse, Joseph Drapell and Henry Saxe are two unapologetic artists with strong personal oeuvres that have fought against the tide of fashionable conventions. "A...Read More
Published on October 14, 2020
ARTIST TALK Joseph Drapell
BOOK YOUR SEATS NOW for Wednesday October 14, 2020 from 5 - 7 pm Join us at13th Street Gallery for “ART & GEORGIAN BAY – Q&A” with legendary artist Joseph Drapell, who’s work can be found in major museums, such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the British Museum...Read More