Bertram Brooker: This Tremendous Arc

November 30, 2019 – February 23, 2020

Bertram Brooker, Ahab’s Death (Elijah Series), 1929, pen and ink on paper, 38 x 25.4 cm. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Photo: André Beneteau (left); Bertram Brooker, Ice Bound Ship (Ancient Mariner Series), 1930, pen and ink on paper, 29.8 x 18.4 cm. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Photo: André Beneteau (right)

Bertram Brooker
This Tremendous Arc
November 30, 2019 to February 23, 2020
The Carnegie Room
Curator: Noor Alé
Reception: Thursday, December 5, 7 to 9 pm

Heralded as one of Canada’s forerunners of abstract art, Bertram Brooker (1888-1955) was a self-trained polymath known for his work as a visual artist, actor, novelist, poet, screenwriter, playwright, advertising executive and graphic designer. This Tremendous Arc gathers ink and pencil drawings from Brooker’s book illustrations of canonical literature. Spanning three decades of artistic production, the works tread between realist and non-objective representations, encompassing Brooker’s re-imaginings of literary masterpieces, among them William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (c. 1600), Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (1862) and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866). Drawn with an exacting hand, these haunting illustrations narrate the drama of tragedies and triumphs found in their written counterparts. Observations of the natural world accompany the works, marking a critical juncture in Brooker’s mid-career when he began to explore figuration.

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