|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.