Jack Bush R.C.A.

Disappearing, 1969

acrylic polymer on canvas
51x37 in.

The artist, 1969;
David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto, 1969;
Ken Moffet, 1969 – 1972;
David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto, 1972;
Janet Winkler, 1972;
Miriam Shiell Fine Art;
Marianne Friedland;
Private Collection, Toronto;
Udell Gallery, Edmonton;
Private Collection, 2013;

An exhibition of paintings by Jack Bush from private collections, Miriam Shiell Fine Art, Toronto, ON, 2005;
Jack Bush, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON, 2014-2015;

Mayer and Stanners, Jack Bush, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Canada, 2014, cat. no. 99,
illustrated pp. 207., 249.;
Miriam Shiell Fine Art, An exhibition of paintings by Jack Bush from private collections, exhibition catalogue, 2005, illustrated, n.p.;
Toronto International Art Fair, Art Toronto 2003, exhibition catalogue, 2003, illustrated p. 178

Jack Bush took his ideas from his life’s experience. The Sash series comes from a dress his wife wore in the early 1960s, the Jazz works have an obvious inspiration in music, but the Spasm series, which this work is from, come from a deeply personal experience. In 1969, Bush had a severe attack of angina, which hospitalized him and threatened his life. The fluttering shapes are taken from the electrocardiogram readouts, which Bush contemplated in the conversations he had with his doctor. As soon as he was able he returned to the studio, using the imagery in works that convey his fear – first as blips (later called “heart throbs”) that are aggressive and echo the pain he felt – then as smoothed out flying shapes that are less sinister – then into fluttering, almost butterfly-like shapes that move upward, rather than rain downward on the canvas, and that feel optimistic and uplifting. It was as if he created these works to comfort himself, to work through the experience, and to express the impact the health scare had on his outlook on life. Interestingly, the blips, or flutters, are painted in light colours that belie the serious information they convey. As if to contain, or settle them, bars of strong colour, solid and assured, border the other half of the work. These bars of colour, steady and upward moving as they are, serve to quell the uncertainty implied by the flutters, lessening and contrasting their threat. An uplifting and optimistic work, Disappearing speaks to Bush’s improved health, his optimism, and to the continued evolution of his paintings.

John Hamilton Bush, “Jack,” painter (b at Toronto 20 Mar 1909; d there 24 Jan 1977). Jack Bush was raised in London and Montréal, where he worked initially as a commercial artist in his father’s Montréal firm, Rapid Electro Type Company. In 1928 he moved to the Toronto office of…