Remarkably beautiful, lush, and impressionistic in form—Rajasthan is a stunning example of Canadian artist John Graham Coughtry’s masterful use of colour. Rendered in the exotic spice colours of India-ochre and orange, the painting is an expressive abstract portrait of a ballet dancer ‘en jette’. Rajasthan is the largest state in Northern India. Both the subject and the colour palette were inspired by the family the famous artist married into.
“In my painting, colour comes first…” - John Graham Coughtry
“These were not portraits in any usual sense - that is, they did not describe individual faces - but rather the impressions of the idea of the portrait: the idea of confrontation between painter and subject." - Robert Fulford, Art Critic
Coughtry’s wife, Larisa Pavlychenko was one of three sisters who grew up dancing to Ukrainian folk songs in their hometown of Saskatoon. Her sisters, Lusia and Nadia would go on to become renowned professional dancers and teachers. Larisa, a natural beauty, became a Vogue model and often sat for her husband’s paintings. Her younger sister, Nadia studied dance at the Laban School of Modern Dance in London, England, and York University, Toronto, established what was to become one of the most innovative and experimental modern dance studios in Toronto. The Pavlychenko Studio on Yonge Street opened in 1974. Nadia’s interest in Eastern philosophy led her to create a unique teaching technique that connected mind and body to dance. It is now common practice in today’s dance world.
Nadia tragically died of cancer at age 42. On the tenth anniversary of the Pavlychenko Studio Larisa took it over to honour her sister’s memory until it closed in 1988. This painting by her husband, Graham graced the Toronto studios’ walls for years.