Prolific Cape Breton-based abstract painter had international influence - InfoNews

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Prolific Cape Breton-based abstract painter had international influence

Hilara, 1966. Acrylic on canvas. 173 x 173 cm, a painting by Jacques Hurtibise is shown in this undated handout photo. Jacques Hurtubise, a Cape Breton-based artist whose bold, abstract paintings gained an international following during a productive, 50-year career, has died. He was 75. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
December 30, 2014 - 1:39 PM

HALIFAX - Jacques Hurtubise, a Cape Breton-based artist whose bold, abstract paintings gained an international following during a productive, 50-year career, has died.

He was 75.

Born in Montreal, Hurtubise attended Ecole des beaux-arts de Montreal, where he graduated in 1960. He staged his first solo show a year later at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art in 1961 when he was 21.

Described as an intense but warm workaholic, Hurtubise's award-winning artwork has been featured in exhibitions in Canada, the United States, England, Belgium, France, Brazil, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.

"He was part of a generation that really helped define what we think of ... as abstract painting," said Sarah Fillmore, chief curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax. "His influence is considerable."

In 1983, he moved to Cape Breton where he continued painting until his death Saturday at his home in Inverness.

"He really needed the kind of space that being in Cape Breton afforded him," Fillmore said in an interview Tuesday. "That allowed for very rich production, very intense production."

Fillmore said she got to know Hurtubise in 2011 when the gallery put together a large retrospective devoted to his more recent work.

"It's hitting me how sad it is, how much of a loss it is," she said.

"He was a fiery man with an incredible work ethic. He was very dedicated to his practice. ... What he leaves behind is a carefully defined body of work that very strongly speaks to his particular language and way of seeing things."

Hurtubise's paintings often feature hard edges, bold colours and, in his later work, deep-black pools, rivers and geometric forms that often mask upside-down maps and text.

"He masked his paintings with a gestural splash that repeats with different forms and backgrounds," said Fillmore.

He also dabbled in sculpture, creating what he called light paintings by using neon tubes and bulbs.

Represented by Galerie Simon Blais in Montreal, Hurtubise was well connected with the international art community, travelled often and had regular exhibitions.

Fillmore said that when she visited him last summer, he was — as always — hard at work.

"He was making a whole new body of work that was just fascinating. He was finding new ways to reinvent his practice."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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