By 1953 Oscar Cahén was confidently painting many large abstracts in oil. He participated in ten exhibitions that year alone and eleven more in 1954. Growing Form was included in his first solo show, held at Hart House at the University of Toronto in October 1954. Conservative critic Hugh Thomson ridiculed the show, calling the paintings “vague” and “screw-ball,” similar to “the work we used to do in kindergarten.” Growing Form is typical of Cahén’s ongoing interest in converting recognizable subject matter into emotionally resonant abstracted forms. Like other painters of the period, he was, in his own words, “fascinated” by popular British artist Graham Sutherland (1903–1980), whose thorny organic compositions had been recently shown in Toronto. But Cahén had not simply adopted a trendy trope. For some time he had been developing the motif of a barbed, upward-thrusting tall shape, crowned with a bloom of crescents.