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Kathryn Bemrose Summons a Stream of Subconsciousness


Bemrose grew up in Paris, Ontario where her and her imaginary friend Jane Hansen dreamed of becoming ballet dancers until acting caught her fancy later on in high school. At age 11 after being diagnosed with diabetes she was drawn to nursing as she really felt the need to help others. Later in her 20’s she almost lost her eyesight to the disease combined with  a bohemian lifestyle but after countless laser eye surgeries her sight was saved. Bemrose Graduated from the Ontario College of Art, Toronto in 1976 and from Art Sake, Toronto in 1979.


Bemrose is striving, as Emile Bourduas once did, to transpose the stream of consciousness to canvas. Emile Bourduas was the founder of the Quebecois group The Automatistes in the 1940’s. “The present exists in response to the past. I find this difficult and challenging, which is why I am appreciative of the Automatistes,” explains Bemrose.


Bemroses’ oils on canvas reveal hints of high voltage colourings some with traces of figures. The larger canvases  are airy,  like slowly falling into the aerial view of a landscape. Bemrose uses circular canvases to develop a visual poetry reflecting on drawings that she completed while in Mexico in the latter part of the 1980’s.


Bemrose has been involved in the Toronto art scene for almost 40 years. She was represented by the Christopher Cutts Gallery from 1990-1996 and has shown alongside Ray Mead and Tom Hodgson, two members of the famous Painters Eleven. Bemrose has continued to be influenced by many Toronto artists including Gordon Rayner, Robert Hedrick, Robert Markle all of whom taught at Art Sake which was where Bemrose learned the most. Her colour courses helped her to define abstraction and it just always made more sense to her. Bemrose has painted consistently throughout her career not always abstractly but always spontaneously with scrutinizing after thought.


In 1982 Bemrose moved to Algonquin Park where she lived for four years. Here she had to invent her world around her as she became more and more detached from the civilized world.  There she painted more figuratively “The paintings were wonderfully surreal with loons climbing up and bending flagpoles over” Bemrose reflects.

Bemroses’ recent solo exhibition at Deluca Gallery, where she is represented, was a cross section of her time spent in Algonquin Park and her time in Mexico with a few unexpected twists, like the blue and red canvas titled Dirty Matisse. Overall a considerable body of work from an established eccentric spirit in the Toronto art scene.

Unfurled, 2013, oil on canvas, 42" x 30"

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