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Jack Bush

Jack John Hamilton Bush was born in Toronto, Ontario on March 20 1909, but he spent most of his childhood in Montreal, where he studied at the Royal Canadian Academy. He studied under Adam Sheriff Scott and Edmond Dynnet from 1926-1928 in the basic principles of art, where his skills emerged. 

In 1929 while in his twenties, Bush began his professional career as a landscape artist. At first he painted mostly landscapes and was clearly influenced by the Group of Seven. In the 1930s Bush attended the Ontario College of Art. He is associated with Painters Eleven, a group of Canadian Abstract Expressionists based in Toronto and influenced by art critic Clement Greenberg. It was on the strength of a 1968 Guggenheim Fellowship and a two-year appointment as visiting artist at the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan, that Bush thought the time had come for him to retire from his employment as a commercial designer and devote himself to painting full time.

In the early 1970s, Bush began to apply his acrylic paints on wet canvas, using broad brush-strokes, sponges and paint rollers, creating a textured surface that provided a sharp contrast between the ground and the overlying strong calligraphic forms he superimposed in lively, opaque colors. By the time he was 59 years old, Bush had shown his works in well-received solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries in major art centres including New York, San Francisco, London and Paris as well as in Toronto and Montreal. His paintings were to be seen hanging side-by-side with those of prominent practitioners of the Abstract Expressionist movement, such as Helen Frankenthaler and Kenneth Noland.

Nonetheless, his first solo show in a major institution took place at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1972, and his first touring Canadian retrospective was organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario only in 1976. Bush died a few weeks after attending the opening of that exhibition when it traveled to the Edmonton Art Gallery in January of 1977.

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