When Jack Bush began his painting career, the Canadian art scene was dominated by the Group of Seven. The emergence of new perspectives in art and John Lyman’s return from Paris, the publication of the Automatiste manifesto Refus global, and the dissemination of works by Borduas and Riopelle, all contributed to turning Bush toward a more assertive form of abstraction that led him to form the group Painters Eleven, along with ten other young abstract painters from Toronto, including Harold Town and William Ronald. After taking several trips to New York and experimenting with action painting, Bush abandoned the ambiguities of surrealist space (figure/ground) in favour of a modernist prerogative that used zones of colour in bands or stacks. His encounter with the art historian and theoretician Clement Greenberg reinforced his determination to avoid an allusive style of painting. Although it is often associated with a more American approach to pictorial representation, his work contributed to the growing autonomy and independence of Canadian painting.

Split Circle No. 2, 1961, Oil on canvas.
© Succession Jack Bush / SOCAN (2022) • Photo: Michael Cullen