Jack Bush represented Canada at the 1967 São Paulo Art Biennial. The success and recognition he received there and from being a part of Painter Eleven allowed him to pursue painting full time in 1968.
The Art Gallery of Algoma permanent collection features a variety of works by Jack Bush in various stages of his careers. Including realistic oil portraits, flattened landscapes and more recent ‘automatic’ and colourfeild works!
Bush first studied at the Royal Canadian Academy in the years 1926-1928 and continued his studies with evening classes instructed by Charles Comfort, J.E.H. MacDonald, John Alfsen, George Pepper, Frederick Challener. Bush was at first inspired by the Group of Seven, on occasion sketching by their sides.
As a young artist Bush realized that a technical ability is not enough for a prominent place in the artworld nor in the art history. He kept two parallel careers at that time – commercial artist/illustrator and in his free time an independent fine art practice that eventually became his sole focus.
However, it was not an easy process; around 1945 Bush started experiencing anxiety issues and started a life-long relationship with Dr. J. Allan Walters, a progressive psychiatrist who helped him by guiding him to start painting more freely and keeping a daily dairy of his emotions and reactions.
This practice commenced in September 1947 and resulted in Bush becoming a painter that we know and celebrate, around 1955, when abstract art became his only focus.
In 1953 artist William Ronald invited Bush to participate in an exhibition Abstracts at Home at Simpson’s department store in Toronto which led to a formation of a new group – Painters Eleven - whose mission was to promote abstract art in Canada. Influential New York City art critic Clement Greenberg praised the group. Bush and Greenberg met in Toronto in 1957 and stayed in touch. Greenberg encouraged Bush to refine his palette and technique and develop his own style. Bush’s style started shifting towards automatic painting, lyrical and colour fieldwork. Following that his art found great commercial success in New York City. He became friends with other artists associated with Color Field such as Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, and Anthony Caro.
Bush represented Canada at the 1967 São Paulo Art Biennial. By 1968 Bush was able to work as an artist only. He was honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1976, and the Art Gallery of Ontario toured a large retrospective of his work that summer. In 2014 the National Gallery of Canada presented a large retrospective of Jack Bush which included over 100 paintings from Canada and the USA and was accompanied by a major publication.
Bush had also been a member of the Ontario Society of Artists, the Canadian Group of Painters, as well as President of the Canadian Group of Painters in Water Colour, to mention some.
The Art Gallery of Algoma is fortunate to have works from different stages in the artist's career. Included in the collection are realistic oil portraits, flattened landscapes reminiscent of Spanish paintings, as well as more recent ‘automatic’ and colour field works.
Jack Bush was born John Hamilton Bush in Toronto in 1909.
In 1934 Bush married his childhood friend Mabel Teakle and they had three sons: Jack Jr., Robert and Terry. Bush was working and supporting his young family as well as trying very hard to keep his art practice separate from his daily duties.
Around 1945 Bush started experiencing anxiety issues and started a life-long relationship with Dr. J. Allan Walters, a progressive psychiatrist. Dr. Walters helped him by guiding him to start painting more freely and keeping a daily dairy of his emotions and reactions.
Get Inspired by Marks
Try this creative activity based on the artwork! Share your creations on our Art and Discovery Facebook page.
Jack Bushes Royal Family and Summer #2, are examples of Jacks colourful and expressive works. Try your hand at expressive and colourful mark making to create stunning abstract works yourself!
- Thick paper (to paint on)
- Paint Brushes
- Gather your paper, you will want a couple of sheets to experiment on and another one for your final work.
- Find a variety of paint brushes you want to have a variety of sizes and types if you can!
- Get out you paint and choose 3-4 different colours, the brighter the better!
- Start making quick brushstrokes over your pages, washing your brush to switch colours occasionally. Try your best not to overlap the different marks too often.
- Keep doing this until you have a variety of different brushstroke and marks that you like. Let your paint dry fully.
- When your paint is dry cut out the brush strokes that you like the most, try to make sure you have a variety of colour.
- Start to arrange your brushstroke on a separate piece of paper, trying different directions and layers, and adding and removing shapes, until you find a design that you like!
- Glue down your pieces, you may want to use something flat and heavy to make sure the pieces dry flat on your paper.
- After the work has fully dried and is sturdy you can finish it off by adding some final brushstrokes, you can try using black or white paint to make your painting pop out. Just make sure not to overdo it (you do not want to cover to much of your other marks!).
- If you have extra pieces and more paper, you can make your very own abstract collection!
Now you’re done! Admire you work and don’t forget to share your creations on our Facebook page so others can admire them too!