Pursuing joy through color
With lush, bold colors and a whimsical playfulness, Jack Bush endeavored to capture what he called the “essence” and “feeling” of what he was experiencing or observing—such as a beautiful flower or a piece of music. A member of Painters Eleven, an influential group of Canadian artists founded in 1954 that worked to promote abstract art, by the 1960s Bush had established himself as one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists. Inspired by modern master Henri Matisse and American Color Field painters like Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, Bush intended for his radiant abstractions to evoke an emotional experience of jubilant beauty. Like many of his paintings, Striped Column (1964), pictured above, prompts a joyful response through its vibrant palette and sensitively brushed, velvety surface. “What I’d really like to do is hit Matisse’s ball out of the park,” Bush said to his peer and friend Kenneth Noland. “Go ahead,” Noland replied. “Matisse won’t mind at all.”
“Jack Bush: Radiant Abstraction” celebrates an artist whose sense of color, use of abstraction, and method of working ranks him among the most acclaimed Color Field painters of the 1960s and 70s. The exhibition features three canvases spanning 10 years of Bush’s career, from 1964 through 1974, encapsulating the range of his late style and illustrating the artist’s development over the last decade of his life. With their abstracted forms and colors, the works express the joy that Bush sought to share with his viewers.