John Boyle

“All that is needed [to make art] is a certain rigour mingled with an internal honesty, because I believe that art begins as an individual reflective activity[…] Indeed, art should be a rebellion against the forces that attempt to diminish the magnificence or the hideousness of the human mind and spirit.  Art should permit no escape from or abandonment of the human condition.” (1991)

John Boyle’s intricate and colorful paintings, dealing mainly with sociopolitical figures and elements of Canadian landscape, place him firmly within the realm of the Canadian response to the 1960s-era Pop phenomenon.  

Boyle lived most of his life in the small town of London, Ontario.  After studying at the London Teachers’ College and the University of Western Ontario, he moved to St. Catharine’s in 1962, where he worked intermittently as an elementary school teacher then, from 1968 on, as a professional artist. He also lived for a while in Elsinore, a small hamlet near Owen Sound and now resides in Peterborough.

Boyle initially intended to become a writer, but after seeing an exhibition of the work of Vincent Van Gogh in Detroit in 1962, he decided to concentrate on painting.  Largely self-taught, he fully committed to his art, and his unique approach quickly began to garner interest.  The artist is one of the few since the early twentieth century to focus on the Canadian sociopolitical figure outside of the realm of portraiture (Lakeside Park, 1970).  Boyle is also noted for his emulation of the color profile of screen-printing by omitting half-tones from his palette.  This gives his paintings a dramatic intensity that reinforces the importance of the presented figures.  

Boyle, deeply passionate about artist’s rights, spearheaded the foundation of the Niagara Artist’s Company in 1970 and was the founding spokesperson for CARO, the Canadian Artists’ Representation Ontario, the following year.  The artist, whose paintings can be found in major collections across the country, was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy in 1975,  received Canada Council B Grants in 1971, 1973 and 1979, and a Canada Council A Grant in 1987.