Volume 92, Issue 17

Thursday, October 1, 1998

decisions decisions


Brooker displays progressive art

By Serena Leyes
Gazette Writer

Bertram Brooker is an artist of several mediums. Born in England, Brooker emmigrated to Manitoba at the age of 17. He is a key example of liberation and innovation in the extensive history of Canadian art. Through a diversity of artistic interpretations and styles, Brooker captures both spiritual and commercial perspectives.

The London Regional Art and Historical Museum is displaying many of Bertram Brooker's works in the exhibit entitled Assembling Sounds: The Drawings and Illustrations of Bertram Brooker, named after a famous painting by Brooker.

The artwork placed at the beginning of the exhibit are examples of realism when his artistic life survived the late '20s and early '30s. It was during this time that he was influenced by LeMoin FitzGerald, a friend of Brooker's and contemporary artist.

The mediums range from pencil to water-colour. Though the sketches are mostly realistic, Brooker still employs abstraction. He drew some tree branches with soft, barely visible lines which would fade out at their tips, while other images were contorted through the manipulation of pencil shadings.

Brooker once admitted his intent is to capture the rhythm, the ascention, the upward light seeking and springing in each stem, each leaf, each tendril. His tree sketches implement a sense of sensuality, especially "Willow," (Dentonia Park) done in 1932.

As the viewer continues through the gallery, the art becomes noticeably sharper and much more modern in appearance. What is surprising to note is that most of the works were done earlier than his realistic, more conservative pieces. The images are innovative abstractions which also have surrealist and cubist undertones. His cubism is reminiscent of Piccasso while his pen and ink is art deco in style.

The images in many of his drawings are layers of forms and faces melded into one another. As he once stated, the purpose of this was to portray the feelings of each character within his work as vividly as possible.

In observing his abstractions, it is obvious he has an advertising background. They are quite contemporary and even risky for the conservative era of the 1930s. Many of them possess a spiritual quality, with such religious portrayals as his "Bible Series No.1." These pieces are still fresh and fashionable even in today's art world of graphics and computerization.

The brilliant exhibit begins on a conservative note with Brooker's realism, then progresses to his abstract and bold dream-like pieces. The works within the exhibit represent the struggles all artists must encounter at some point.

Like many artists, Brooker ventures into different mediums and styles to create the most suitable pieces. His themes range from religion to sensuality, yet all have the central theme of spirituality. His employment of commercialism within his abstraction is an interesting contrast. He also successfully keeps his spirituality in all his pieces, while through his advertising background he creates innovative detailed pieces which catch and hold the viewer's eye.

This exhibit is unlike many, with luring stories behind the images. The LRAHM have books and facts making this experience both exciting and culturally fulfilling. Because his art exemplifies his struggles and successes in combining art and business, Bertram Booker is someone with whom most artists should be able to relate.

The exhibit will be open for another six weeks and is located at the LHARM, Dundas St. west of Riverside.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998