UAlberta receives donation of important sculpture

Steel sculpture by internationally renowned Kosso Eloul is the latest impressive work of art on North Campus.


Signalos III, by Kosso Eloul (1920&ndash1995), is the latest impressive work of public art on the University of Alberta's North Campus. Located on the southeast corner of 114 Street and 87 Avenue, it is a welcome addition to the U of A Art Collection.

Eloul is best known for creating large-scale steel structures composed of rectangular forms balanced at unusual angles. Signalos III, at 12 feet tall, appears as though its two halves might slide apart, but Eloul has found the precise fixed point at which they will remain stable. Signalos III speaks to the history of modern sculpture in Edmonton and at the U of A.

There are two other versions of Signalos: one in Mexico City, commissioned by the Mexican ambassador in 1978 to commemorate the Mexican-Canadian friendship, and the other in the Jewish Community Center's sculpture garden in Tucson, Arizona.

"When I chose the name Signalos, [the Mexican ambassador] told me that there is no such Mexican word," said Eloul in Celebrating with Sculpture: An Exhibition at the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts catalogue. "I was pleased to say, 'There is no such word in English, either. It's as abstract as the sculpture itself.'"

Born in Murom in the former Soviet Union, Kosso Eloul was raised in Israel and educated in Tel Aviv and the United States, including at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago School of Design. In 1969, Eloul settled permanently in Toronto. An internationally renowned sculptor, Eloul was a key figure in the development of 20th-century sculpture. He has more than 100 sculpture commissions across Canada and many more internationally, including the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, China. Arguably, his best-known design is the eternal flame at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem that incorporates ashes from victims of concentration camps.

Signalos III was originally commissioned by an Edmontonian for a private residence in the city. The residence was then purchased by Fawzy and Cornelia Morcos, who generously donated the sculpture to the U of A Museums Art Collection.

The late Fawzy Morcos was an associate professor in the U of A's obstetrics and gynecology department. He was awarded an honorary alumni award in 2014 for his many contributions to the university. The entire Morcos family has a connection with the U of A, with seven degrees between Fawzy, Cornelia and their four children.