The monumental work of art “Checkmate” by Paul Ygartua has been unveiled at the historic Royal Bank Building in Vancouver’s financial district.

Standing nearly 3 meters tall, this uniquely shaped jigsaw-like painting now permanently greets people as they enter the foyer of the building at 675 West Hastings. This intriguing piece is thought-provoking and draws you into the imaginary game of chess which Paul likes to compare to real-life challenges.

The Royal Bank Building was the city’s first bank skyscraper, completed in 1931 during the Great Depression. Paul’s artwork now compliments this beautiful Art Deco and Romanesque motif architecture which was designed by architect Sumner Godfrey Davenport.

The interior of the building is a mixture of the Classical and Moorish styles. With brass details throughout, marble floors and mythical beasts embedded in the ceilings. The permanent installation of “Checkmate” now sparks the expectation for great things beyond while pulling one into a new world or forgotten pasts. It amplifies the foyer’s length while the ceiling lends height and drama to this powerful centrepiece.

We are honoured to have one of Paul’s paintings in this spectacular timeless foyer. The acquisition of this compelling new artwork was made by Uptown Property Group, a professional installation by Deanna Geisheimer from Art Works. We would also like to thank Bart Slotman for having the vision and making it all possible.


Paul Ygartua explains “Checkmate”

“I think that the modular sections were inspired by the movement of the Knight while the spectators overlook the game. Introducing the Gargoyle sets one in a period of time when the game of Chess first started. The inner workings of the game and its simple complexities gave way to building a jigsaw-like composition that comes to life and inspires.

The placing of the Queen, in a vulnerable position, creates an exciting atmosphere with a compelling design concept for the perfect composition, with balance and colour.

Creating a perspective whereby the spectators can feel they are participating in the game.  The illusion that draws one into the subject matter, with the fascination – they’re with the players, feeling like you are participating in the game.

For me the Game of Chess is like the Game of life. The name of the game is to win, to survive, the same as in real life. The objective is to win, but the challenge is designing and then acting out a strategy to achieve that goal–as in life, you must constantly evaluate and change your playing strategy.

Painting The Game of Chess allows me to enter into an imaginary world whereby I can invent a life situation in my mind and then put my imagination into each character, the King, the Queen, the Bishop, the Pawns, and the Castle. Each one portraying a different angle a different personality; I actually enter the game and become part of it, it is like I am in the game.” – Paul Ygartua



Paul’s Neo-Cubism artistic style

I am in between styles here, always searching, and always challenging myself to move forward with my work and creativity. I want to express more than just a visual expression, I want people to think about what I am trying to portray. I find that Neo Cubism is a style where I can make a statement through my work–the unrest in the world, the bureaucracy of our governments, the control of our world through global corporations. We all must make a statement, whether it is through your art, verbally, or in written form.

At the moment, as in most of my work, I create in vivid colour. The dominance of colour in this style makes a statement; colour influences us all and I find it is powerful in stimulating a reaction to my subject.

The figures used are semi-abstracted, always distorted in form. The viewer becomes intrigued and inquisitive which draws him closer to the subject, allowing one to think about the painting rather than just enjoying the visual form and colour.