Lyons Wier Gallery group exhibition in NYC Feb 15 – March 16, 2013
Alex works by transposing photographic portraits onto canvas stretched over panel board using a monochromatic palette of oil paint. Painting cell by cell in a slow, methodical and meticulous manner taking weeks, if not months, to complete, the artist carefully reproduces photographs of people he knows and some he doesn’t. The works are not mere throwbacks to photo-realism as they might appear on first glance, however. The more you examine the paintings, the less it appears to be a truthful replica of a photo. Textures on the face, for example, appear so overly detailed that they come across as psychedelic or even supernatural, taking on a quality that is unlike skin. Rather than being a mere portrait, the effect of the process through which Bierk delivers each image is something unique and personal that speaks not only of the character of the persons depicted but the character of the artist himself.
Alex neither hides the process nor the cells which comprise the painting; rather, his method is always made apparent as it is integral to his practice. The regimented regime taught to Alex by his father, the late painter David Bierk, was a means to focus attention and keep his son off the streets and out of trouble. The painter draws upon this familial inspiration in choosing to continue to paint in a manner less natural to the artists own character. Within the painting, you can see the artist’s own personality clashing with this highly meditative and controlled process. Each cell can be read as a burst of painterly expression that has been constrained by the borders of each individual cell. Alex’s work is the result of the negotiation between the parts of the whole and the whole of its parts – the controlled technique of replicating a photograph amidst the artist’s own expressionistic and ‘untamed’ personality.
Portrait of Dennis Tourbin
Alex Bierk’s portrait study is of Dennis Tourbin who was his Godfather and dear friend of his fathers, David Bierk.
Few saw life through the same lens as the often controversial, always inspirational artist Dennis Tourbin (1946-1998). Dennis was a poet, painter, performance artist, novelist, and art and poetry-magazine publisher. He was active in the artist-run centres network since the early days; he was a founding member of the Niagara Artists’ Center, he has run Gallery 101 in
Ottawa, in addition to have been Chairman of the Board of Artspace in Peterborough. Dennis was a key part of the development of the lively regional art scene since the seventies; he felt that artists have a profound connection to their communities and drew their inspiration from them.
Dennis explored the area between painting and literature and moved the word beyond the printed page, examining the explosion of media and its impact on the way we see and perceive things. He referred to his paintings as visual poetry, and he had developed a multi-media form which he called a painted play. Dennis was also best known for his work on the 1970 October Crisis and left a lasting mark on a generation of artists.
His numerous works are exhibited, published, and performed throughout North America, and Europe. His works can be found in the National Gallery of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, the National Archives of Canada, and dozens of private and public collections throughout Canada, such as the Charlottetown Confederation Centre for the Arts, Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound and the Art Gallery of Peterborough.
Nadia Laham, February 2006
Born 1982 in Peterborough ON, Canada
Lives and works in Toronto ON, Canada
Toronto School of Art 2002
SELECTED EXHIBITIONS AND FAIRS
Retuning Reality, Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, New York, 2013
SCOPE Miami, General Hardware Contemporary, Booth K07, 2012
Art Toronto, General Hardware Contemporary, Booth #944, 2012
Fall Classic, SMASH, Curated by Dave Murray, Toronto ON, 2012
Pulp Friction, Intellectual Property, Curated by Steve Roufas, Toronto ON, 2011
Family Portrait, CRAM Gallery, St.Catharines ON, 2010
Inaugural Exhibition, General Hardware Contemporary, Toronto ON, 2010
Daddy, NACO Gallery, Toronto ON, 2009
Strangers, The Texas Institute For Socially Unaccepted
Geniuses, Peterborough ON, 2008
Head and Shoulders Above The Rest, S.P.I.N. Gallery, Toronto ON, 2007
Artspace 50/50, Artspace, Peterborough ON, 2007
Bizarre Beyond Belief, “Alex Bierk – Realist Portraiture” Bizarre Beyond Belief, Sept. 2012 http://bizarrebeyondbelief.com/2012/09/07/alex-bierk-realist-portraiture/
Jess Bloom & Rachel MacFarlane, “The Bierk Brothers” Studio Beat, Sept. 2012 http://www.studio-beat.com/artists/alex-jeff-nick-charlie-bierk-toronto-painters/
Jennifer Lorraine Fraser, “Love, Life and the World of Alex Bierk” Forest City Gallery, Nov.16 2011 http://fcgintern.blogspot.ca/2011/11/love-life-and-world-of-alex-bierk.html
NOW Magazine “Must-See Shows” NOW Magazine, Oct. 2010
Elizabeth Bower “Alex Bierk in New Exhibition” Peterborough Examiner, Oct. 2010
Tobey C. Anderson, “Family Portrait No.2” CRAM International, Oct. 2010 http://cramart.blogspot.ca/2010/10/family-portrait-no-2.html
Elizabeth Bower, “Bierk Brothers Offer Art About Family Relationships” Peterborough Examnier, Sept. 2010