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Secured, 2017, encaustic on canvas mounted on panel, 50” x 40”

Jim Bourke

January 02 to 26, 2019
Reception: Saturday, January 12, 1 to 5 PM

The Red Head Gallery is pleased to present PUBLIC/PRIVATE an exhibition by artist Jim Bourke.

PUBLIC/PRIVATE is about seeing the searing florescent yellow of public security guard vests while perceiving the emotional distance of the young men who wear them. Or watching teenagers grouped together in a common public space and noticing they are isolated by their smartphone use. It is about looking at young men wearing similar clothing designed to express an authentic self and realizing they are lost in their own worlds. Whether private couples sharing a public bench or teens texting by the Henry Moore, Jim Bourke portrays small groups of figures collected in our public spaces, existentially alone, yet loosely cohering. Adjacent not communal.

In large encaustic paintings, Bourke re-imagines adjacency as a kind of community. Through overlapping and repeating shapes and colours, Bourke re-energizes the sense of togetherness in his portraits of figures in public spaces by merging them into a rhythmic mass punctuated by warm fleshy textures that unify groups into a flowing and dynamic whole. Fields of electric yellow-green or hot rose-pink surrounded by Matisse-like line that flow continuously across the figures further strengthen the sense of unity. With saturated video-game colours, Bourke reveals the inherent connectedness and separation of a changing public realm.


Jim Bourke is a painter who values the aesthetic and emotional potential of a rich and varied material surface left as a trace of the process of creation. A good painting is as much a depiction, as it is a history of the artist’s observations, decisions and judgments: a pentimenti of the process of creation. He uses the encaustic medium because its working properties support transparency of process and amplify physical presence.

Bourke depicts simple acts occurring in brief measures of time; the flash of a match, the shake of a dog, the sifting of sand, juice squeezed from fruit, the pour of paint, a glance, a snap, all perhaps key-frames of a cinematic sequence. A narrative is implied, but in an interweaving of allegory and irony, the story being told often refers back to what painting is, how it is made, and what painting still symbolizes in contemporary culture.

He has studied fine art at York University, graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design, and completed a course of computer animation at Sheridan College. He was a member of Propeller Center for the Visual Arts. He is an exhibit designer at the Art Gallery of Ontario. He has won awards in numerous juried exhibitions including OSA, TOAE, Mississauga Art Gallery and the RCA.

For more information, please contact:
Gallery Administrator
401 Richmond St West
Suite 115, Toronto, ON, M5V 3A8
416 504 5654
Gallery hours: Wed - Sat, 12 - 5 pm

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