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Lionel Thomas

Alternate Names:
Lionel Arthur John Thomas
Vital Dates:
Born: 3 April 1915
Died: 6 May 2005


Lionel Thomas was an artist best known for his mosaic murals and public art sculptures. Prior to his career in public art, he created semi-abstract paintings in oil, tempera and other media, and later created intaglio etchings and enamelled copper plaques based on astronomy. Thomas studied at the John Russell School of Fine Arts (1933-35), the Ontario College of Art (1936-37), the Karl Godwin School of Illustration (1937), the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts (1947) and the California School of Fine Arts (1949).  Born and raised in Toronto, Thomas and his wife and artistic partner, Patricia (nee Simon), moved to Vancouver in 1940 where he began his teaching career at the Vancouver School of Art. From 1950-80, Thomas was a faculty member in both the UBC Fine Arts and Architecture Departments. From the 1940s to 1960s, Thomas exhibited his paintings extensively in Canada and internationally, including 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. His work is held in collections across Canada, including the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Simon Fraser University (Burnaby), the University of Victoria, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the West Vancouver Museum.

Lionel Thomas has a close relationship to UBC and the Belkin Art Gallery. His sculptural works on campus include The Lion and St. Mark (1957) on the exterior of St. Mark’s College and Symbols for Education (1958), a collaboration with his wife Patricia Thomas. 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.

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