Jean McEwen was born in 1923 in Montreal, Quebec. His mother was French Canadian, his father of Scottish descent. Much to the young McEwen’s surprise, he had some of his early paintings accepted in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Annual Spring Exhibitions in 1949 and 1950. He also received favourable reviews from Quebec artist Paul-Emile Borduas, who encouraged him to travel to Paris to further his understanding of modem art and painting. Taking this advice, he spent three years in Paris and formed associations with Canadian artist Jean-Paul Riopelle and American artist Sam Francis, who had a lasting impact on his future work. As one of the pioneers of the North American modernist art movement, he explored non-figurative colour and space relationships through his painting for more than 40 years. He passed away in Montreal in 1999.
The etching Ni Plus, Ni Moins (Not more, Not less) is the artist’s first venture into printmaking, a process that he found to be “quite revealing and pleasurable”. The title of the print is a verbal reference to pushing the composition as far as it would go. The entire image, its contrasts, its cellular form, warm colours, framing verticals and rich texture are held in harmony with the tensions created between them. As a non-figurative work, it moves quietly with the inherent vibrations created within it.