Artist Page 55 Great Canadian Artists
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James Edward Hergel - 1961-

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"Simply put - Canada's Finest Living Artist"

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Once in a generation, there appears a painter who stands head and shoulders above the norm of his contemporaries, and has few rivals in the past.

One such is James Edward Hergel, born in 1961.

His stunning images of Canada command the room of any fine art auction where they are displayed.

And they always, strongly, outstrip, significantly, the art valuations put on his work by those, like fine art auctioneers, who reduce art to dollars and no cents.

In a huge field of painters, all striving to create an identifiable signature style of artistic creativity, James Hergel stands out, uniquely, among his contemporaries. In any room you enter, you instantly can tell a "Hergel." And do the inevitable "double-take" as you look on amazed...

His art is stunningly, and uniquely, creative in design and execution.

It cannot, remotely, be compared to anyone else.

Except possibly, Lawren Harris, who had a somewhat similar majestic, and equally dramatic approach to representing the Great Canadian landscape.

In fact Hergel seeks out some of the same haunts favoured by the Group of Seven. Like many other artists have.

But while others slavishly try to copy their painting style as well, Hergel resolutely remains his own man, creating paintings that echo, but do not copy the master painters of that Group. In fact he moves to a new level of creativity.

His works are, frankly, superior, on any number of levels, to those produced by most of the members of that much over-hyped - by the dollars and no cents crowd, of course - Group.

Near the Mouth of the Michipicotin River, Algoma - James Edward Hergel 1994
Orig. acrylic on board - Image Size - 61 x 76 cm
Found - Ottawa, ON

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Another fabulous work by James Hergel, that copies no one and has no worthy imitators.

Besides traces of Harrisonian landscape power, echoes of AJ Casson at his best, are called up by Hergel's paintings as he captures some of the same rounded hills that were painted in the past by JEH Macdonald and AY Jackson.

In the process James gives the lie to those who say "Been there; done that." Because the same hills that spurred the Group to fame, if not fortune, have inspired James Hergel to new flights of artistic creativity that transcends what the Group did in the 1920s and 30s.

Below the back of a typical Hergel shows that he paints not for the moment, but for posterity. Art lovers and collectors of the future will salute his careful notations about the work on which he spent many hours of work.

Most thankfully, James carefully notes in detail: the location he painted and the year he did it - the failure to do this, is, by far, the biggest crime committed by the vast majority of Canada's painters of the past.

James also adds his studio stamp, and bio, and notes the board size and type of media.

All of which are indispensable for the serious collector, whether of today, or tomorrow.

Clearly James is an artist who paints for the Ages. All Canadians of today, and tomorrow, are eternally thankful that he does...

Near the Mouth of the Montreal River, Algoma - James Edward Hergel 1992
Orig. acrylic on board - Image Size - 61 x 92 cm
Found - London, ON
James Hergel - Blue Spruce Anjigami Lake James Hergel - December Day On the Caledon Farm
James Hergel - Near Anjigami Lake, Algoma James Hergel - Near Hatch Island, Georgian Bay
James Hergel - Sunlit Hillside, Madawaska River Valley James Hergel - North of Batchawana Bay, Algoma
James Hergel - Springtime, Agawa Canyon James Hergel - Sunlit Gorge, Algoma
James Hergel - Near the Leitch Mine, Lake Nipigon James Hergel - Sunlit Shoreline, Algonquin Park
JAMES EDWARD HERGEL was born in Etobicoke, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto on March 1st, 1961.

In 1973, at the age of twelve, Hergel, as a service Boy Scout, met and escorted a wheelchair-bound A. Y. Jackson through the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition and Ontario Place. 

The encounter with such a high profile Canadian artist during his formative years, had a truly profound impact on him.

When he was very young, Hergel showed a natural affinity and aptitude for music.  Playing the piano "by ear" at the age of six, Hergel went on to study the instrument and graduate from the Royal Conservatory of Music. 

During the years of his secondary education, Hergel studied on scholarship at the Art Gallery of Ontario(Activity Centre) under the auspices of the Toronto District School Board's Gifted Artist's Program. 

It was at these Art Gallery of Ontario classes in the mid 1970's that Hergel took instruction from a number of notable contemporary Canadian artists including Jack Bush along with other visiting International artists. 

Hergel's large gold on blue "Untitled" abstract painting on canvas was selected by and exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  The painting later traveled in a country-wide exhibition of work by young Canadian artists sponsored by the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1978. 

Hergel graduated in 1985 from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science.  In 1988, Hergel graduated top of his class as a gemmologist with degrees from the Canadian Gemmological Association and the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. 

Hergel served on the board of directors of the Canadian Gemmological Association for several years and in 1991 was elected their President. 

Hergel continued to study art privately under the tutelage of senior artists who's instructors included Elizabeth S. Nutt, Carl Schaefer, Harry Britton, Arthur Lismer and others.  On a chance meeting with A. J. Casson, Hergel was given an impromptu sketching lesson and personal encouragement by the then, last surviving member of the Group of Seven. 

In the mid 1990's Hergel studied at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris, France.  During his eighteen month stay overseas, Hergel took the opportunity to visit other major European cities exploring their museums, art galleries and exhibitions. 

While in Paris, the Centre Pompidou was his favorite location for artistic indulgence.  World class exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou such as "Feminine-Masculine: The Sex of Art" and the retrospective exhibitions of Francis Bacon and Constantin Brancusi had lasting impressions on the artist. 

Hergel exhibited at the G. M. A. C. Place de la Bastille(1995) and G. M. A. C. Bois de Boulogne(1996). 

Hergel exhibited at the East Queen Gallery in Toronto - "All Around Us" 1997 a retrospective with examples of his work dating back to as early as 1966.  The East Queen Gallery also held solo exhibitions of Hergel's recent paintings in 1997 and 1999 and currently represents the artist. 

Hergel, the painter, came of age artistically during the era of Douglas Crimp's famous essay "The End of Painting". An era during which painting as art was critically marginalized and often openly maligned. 

Yet, Hergel counts J. W. Morrice, L. A. C. Panton, W. Goodridge Roberts and the Beaver Hall Hill Group amongst the Canadian artists that have most influenced his artistic development. 

In homage to the artist, Hergel often primes his work with an undercoat tinted pink, a colour that became one of J. W. Morrice's favourites. 

Throughout his career, Hergel has experimented artistically with everything from abstraction to realism.  He has recently refined his work to focus on adaptations to the Canadian Landscape School of painting with a contemporary emphasis on stylized figurative representation and colour. 

Hergel will admit that he finds his deepest and most satisfying artistic inspiration originates from the rapidly transforming land which he grew up in, Canada.

Hergel has traveled the country from coast to coast painting en plein air.  More often the artist collects inspiration from his environs in the form of quick sketches, full drawings, photographs, and visual imagery for later assemblage and work-up in his studio. 

Hergel is highly protective of the Canadian wilderness and a staunch environmentalist.  He has been described as a Canadian "contemporary landscape colourist" and is known for his rhythmic style and unique complimentary blending of vivid harmonized colours. 

Currently, Hergel is actively creating and has his studio in downtown Toronto, Ontario.  The artist is represented in numerous private and institutional collections world-wide including that of the former Prime Minister of Canada.
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