Charles Bierk is a painter renowned for his highly detailed photorealistic style of portraiture. Most of the subjects in his paintings are people he knows — friends, family members, and peers that form the creative community in Toronto. His paintings begin with photography, capturing his subjects in a raw and uninhibited gaze. The resulting painting is dramatic in its chiaroscuro lighting and restrained palette of black and white, which highlights each extraordinarily detailed hair, pore, and wrinkle. More recently, Bierk developed an alternative approach to portraiture, documenting his subjects’ personal assortments of sentimental objects and cropped body parts, such as Hands #9 (Jeff and Simone), on offer in this year’s Art Gems.
A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, Bierk has been painting since childhood, starting off with lessons in oil painting at the age of nine with his father, famous painter David Bierk. His late father was the first to teach him the ‘grid method’ of painting, a technique he still uses in all of his paintings to this day. In 2017, Bierk had a solo exhibition at the Grinnell College Museum of Art in Iowa, for which an accompanying catalogue was published. His paintings are included in many prominent collections across the country, including a major commission for the Ivey School of Business at Western University in London and BMO, among others. Bierk is represented by Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto.
Art Gems 2020 is pleased to feature works by 3 of the Bierk brothers: Charles, Alex, and Nick.