Jack Bush R.C.A.

Three and Blue Loop, 1970

gouache on arches satine paper
30x22 in.

Original gouache from which produced serigraph Three and Blue Loop in 1971

inscribed to verso:
TOP / THREE & BLUE LOOP / Jack Bush, Toronto / gouache

Waddington Galleries, London;
Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton;
Private collection, Edmonton
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary
Private collection

In September 1970, Jack Bush produced thirteen gouache paintings, all with thick, bright strokes of colour set against mottled grounds in shades of grey or wet clay. The artist sent eight of these original gouache paintings overseas to Waddington Galleries in London, England. This delivery – which was sent in the same month that the paintings were produced – included Three & Blue Loop. From the eight paintings sent abroad, Leslie Waddington selected five to be reproduced as serigraphs printed by Christopher Praeter at Kelpra Studio in London. The five gouaches that served as models for the serigraphs included Bush’s Three & Blue Loop; Low Sun; Yellow Mark; Green Loop; and Red M. The serigraphs were signed by the artist, produced in limited editions of 100 each, and published by Leslie Waddington Prints Ltd. The suite was officially released in 1971 without a title but has since been referred to as the Loop series.

Looping marks in bold, opaque colours began to emerge in Bush’s paintings in 1969 when he was making calligraphic figures the key feature of many of his paintings, especially those with bright monochromatic grounds. By the summer of 1970, he had mastered the loop with his enormous sixteen-foot-tall Rose Loop painting, now in the halls of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. By this point, his swirling figures were laid against mottled grounds and the flat loop acted to defy any insinuation of depth between ground and figure. This assertion of flatness in painting is a key tenet of Color Field art of the 1960s and 70s. While his loops appear to take the form of ribbons made to raise awareness for various charities or humanitarian causes, this tradition did not become popular until the 1980s and the blue ribbon in particular remains associated with a top prize or first place. In the case of Three & Blue Loop, the blue loop does not signify any actual object or state of mind. Instead, the bright and fun shapes that dance across so many of Bush’s paintings from the 1970s signal the artist’s sharp sense of design married with an eye and wrist that mastered the fine art of painting.

Sarah Stanners, Ph.D.
(Toronto, 2019)

This work will be included in the Jack Bush Catalogue Raisonné by Dr. Sarah Stanners, to be released in 2024.

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…