DAVID BIERK, R.C.A.
A EULOGY TO ART AND LIFE (BALANCE), TO EL LABRADOR
mixed media on board with steel
signed with initials; signed with artist’s stamp on the reverse; titled and dated 1997 on artist’s label on the reverse
17 ins x 32 ins; 43.2 cms x 81.3 cms
Canadian-American painter David Bierk (1944 – 2002) was born in Appleton, Minnesota and went on to study at the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California. He later received his B.A. and M.F.A. in painting and photography at Humboldt University in Arcata, California. Immigrating to Peterborough, Ontario in 1972 where he taught, Bierk developed a particular painting style and approach that generated international acclaim and recognition. Landscapes featured as a central component of Bierk’s oeuvre, with a characteristically yellowed light and palette that echoed the landscapes of the Romantic period and the Hudson River School. However, Bierk regularly copied and reintroduced works from a wide and varied art-historical canon, and created homages to artists such as Cezanne, Manet, Fantin-Latour, Vermeer and Caravaggio, exploring the relationship between traditional practices and new, modern forms of art-making, including photography and the use of industrial materials.
A Eulogy to Art and Life (Balance) (1997) perfectly encapsulates Bierk’s work. In a central panel, a set of beautifully rendered grapes done in an Old Masters style hang from vines; ripened, the “fresh”-looking grapes traditionally symbolize Bacchus, wine and excess. However, Bierk shows the grapes as aged, yellowed and cracked, and framed by two metal panels, he creates a sense of discord between the tradition, craftsmanship and auratic nature of painted images and classical art, and the new, industrially produced materials associated with modernist art practices, generating a nostalgic and melancholic atmosphere.
David Bierk was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1998 and was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gold Jubilee Medal in 2002. Bierk’s work is widely represented and is in numerous public and private collections across North America including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio.
Private Collection, Toronto
Canadian Fine Arts, Toronto