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 Brian Richard Fisher  (1939 - 2012)

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Lived/Active: Saskatchewan/British Columbia / Australia/Canada      Known for: op art paintings, prints, drawing and sculpture

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Brian  Fisher
Passage – 68” X 86” acrylic, dated 1966. Courtesy of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Photo by Jim Jardine.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Brian Richard Fisher RCA (1939)

“His finely-webbed linear abstracts reflect the disciplined approach of Bloore and Kiyooka, yet are completely unlike anything else done in Canada.” – Paul Duval (1)

An important Canadian painter, draughtsman, printmaker, muralist, sculptor and educator of the 1960s and 1970s, Brian Fisher was born in Uxbridge, England and emigrated to Canada with his parents in 1940. He was raised in Regina, Saskatchewan; lived in Vancouver, B.C. from 1964 to 1976; and again in Regina from 1976 to 1980 (2). His home since 1981 has been Henley Beach [Adelaide], Australia. Fisher’s Op Art creations rank among Canada’s most distinctive works of abstract art; examples of it are in the permanent collections of almost every major Canadian art museum. (3)

Fisher’s mediums include acrylic, collage*, serigraph*, lithograph, pen & ink, pencil, stencil, fresco*, mixed mediums and Constructivist* sculptures made of glass, metal and wire. Most of his work is pure abstraction and thus the subjects are color, shape and texture. According to the artist, his work is informed by spirituality, mostly Zen Buddhism, and it’s created to provoke meditation and contemplation. Although he has worked in several styles including Hard-Edge*, Color Field Painting* and Realism*, his most famous works are Constructivist* inspired Op Art* paintings. The AskART illustration of Passage, a work in the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, is a very good example of Fisher’s best known style. (4)

“My paintings therefore are attempts to find visual equivalents to this feeling of tranquility and before the eyes of a sympathetic viewer, perhaps even to induce peace and order.” – Brian Fisher (5)

Fisher’s formal art education includes the Regina College School of Art  (1957 – 1959) under Ronald Bloore, Arthur F. McKay, Kenneth Lochhead and Roy Kiyooka (6); the Vancouver School of Art (1959 – 1961) under Donald Jarvis and Roy Kiyooka (7); and the Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome, Italy, (1961 – 1963) under Luigi Montanarini and Mino Maccari. (8)

Fisher’s teaching career includes positions at the Vancouver School of Art [now – Emily Carr University of Art + Design] (1964 – 1965), the University of British Columbia (1968), the University of Calgary (1969), the Banff School of Fine Arts* (summer workshop – 1973), and the University of Regina (1976 – 1980).

Fisher joined the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1972, and he was a member of its council, but he resigned from the RCA in 1980. He does not appear to have belonged to any other formal artist associations. (9)

His first solo exhibition was in 1965 at the New Design Gallery, Vancouver. Since then, the public venues for his solo exhibitions have included the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg (1966); the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, B.C. (1966); York University,Toronto, Ontario. (1967); MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (1967, 1978, and 1981); and Museum London, London, Ontario (1970).

Early in his career, his works were included several important group exhibitions including the Northwest Annual Art Exhibition, Seattle Art Museum, Washington (1965); the Spring Exhibition of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (1965 and 1968); “Perspective ’67”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1967); Expo 67, Montreal (1967); the Seventh Biennial of Canadian Painting, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1968); “Canada 101”, Edinburgh Festival Show, Scotland (1968); “Younger Vancouver Sculptors”, University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery, Vancouver (1968); and “The New Art of Vancouver”, Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, California (1969). In 1983, four of his works, including Passage, were shown in “Vancouver Art and Artists 1931 – 1983” the inaugural exhibition for the new Vancouver Art Gallery, and in 1994 his works were shown in “Western Corporations Collect” at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton.

Recently, his works were included in “20th Century Prints”, at Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia (2004); “Pop Pop Pop: Pop”, at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (2006); and “Paint: a psychedelic primer”, at the Vancouver Art Gallery (2007).

Brian Fisher’s works are in numerous private collections and they are in just about every major Canadian museum collection.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, there are Brian Fisher works in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), Dalhousie Art Gallery (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), McIntosh Gallery (University of Western Ontario, London), Maltwood Museum (University of Victoria, B.C.), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Quebec), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Museum London (Ontario), Nickle Arts Museum (Calgary), Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, N.B.), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Simon Fraser University Gallery (Burnaby, B.C.), Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) and Tate Modern (London, England).

Fisher’s awards and honors include the Governor General’s Bronze Medal (1957); Reeves Scholarship, Vancouver School of Art (1961); Italian Government Scholarship (1962); Canada Council Junior Fellowship for travel and study in Italy (1963); a Purchase Award from the Young B.C. Painters Exhibition, University of Victoria (1966); and he was a major award winner at the “Perspective '67”, Centennial Art Exhibition (1967).
 
Footnotes:
1. Source: Page 174, “Four Decades: The Canadian Group of Painters and their contemporaries – 1930 - 1970”, (1972), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references).

2. Sources: “Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts” (1972), by Helen M. Rodney; and “A Concise History of Canadian Painting, Second Edition” (1988), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references).

3. We could find very little information about what Fisher has been doing since 1981 –  a few paintings dated 1985 have come up for auction [see Images – WHEEL (C-5), WHEEL (C-3)], and a very brief biography in a 2007 Australian magazine, which referred to his Canadian career, included a recently done realistic drawing, of what appeared to be a dead duck, titled Storm Casualty. Source: Page 9, Excitement Machine (Issue one, January 2007), Adelaide SA.

4. Fisher is best known for his Op Art paintings like the AskART illustration Passage; early in his career he did some Constructivist sculptures and in the 1980s he did work such as Henley Beach No.  2A as well as Hard Edge and Color Field Painting*. His most famous mural is probably Night Flight (120” X 288”) created in 1968 for Dorval Airport, Montreal (now Montreal-Trudeau International Airport).

5. Source: Page 226, “Abstract Painting in Canada” (2008), by Roald Nasgaard (see AskART book references).

6. When Fisher attended Regina College it was a Regina satellite campus of the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon; Regina College has been an independent school since 1974 and is now named the University of Regina. Source: President's Office, University of Regina.

7. In 1959, when Roy Kiyooka left Regina College to teach at the Vancouver School of Art, Fisher left Regina College and enrolled at the Vancouver School of Art to continue studying under Kiyooka. Source: “A Concise History of Canadian Painting, Second Edition” (1988), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references).

8. Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography have their own pages in AskART.

9. Source: "Passionate Spirits: A History of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1880 – 1980" (1980), by Rebecca Sisler; and "Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979" (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references).
 
Sources:
“The Visual Arts in Canada: The Twentieth Century” (2010), by Brian Foss, Anne Whitelaw and Sandra Paikowsky (see AskART book references)
“Abstract Painting in Canada” (2008), by Roald Nasgaard (see AskART book references)
“Biographical Index of Artists in Canada” (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)
"The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction" (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)
“Sights of Resistance: Approaches to Canadian Visual Culture, Volume 1” (2001), by Robert James Belton (see AskART book references)
“A to Z of Canadian Art: artists & art terms” (1997), Blake McKendry (see AskART book references)
“Hidden Values: Contemporary Canadian Art in Corporate Collections” (1994), by Robert Swain (see AskART book references)
“Art and Architecture in Canada” (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)
“A Concise History of Canadian Painting, Second Edition” (1988), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references)
“Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Spring Exhibitions 1880 – 1970” (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)
“Vancouver: Art and Artists 1931 – 1983" (1983), by Luke Rombout (see AskART book references)
“Contemporary Canadian Art” (1983), by David Burnett and Marilyn Schiff (see AskART book references)
"Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979" (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)
“Enjoying Canadian Painting” (1976), by Patricia Godsell (see AskART book references)
“The History of Painting in Canada - Toward a Peoples Art” (1974), by Barry Lord (see AskART book references)
“Four Decades: The Canadian Group of Painters and their contemporaries – 1930 - 1970” (1972), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references)
"A Dictionary of Canadian Artists" (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)
“Contemporary Canadian Painting” (1972), by William Withrow (see AskART book references)
“Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts” (1972), by Helen M. Rodney (see AskART book references)
“Canadian Art Today” (1970), by William Townsend (see AskART book references)
"Agnes Etherington Art Centre" (1968), by Frances K. Smith (see AskART book references)
Canadian Heritage Information Network*
Page 9, “Excitement Machine” (Issue one, January 2007), Adelaide SA
The Art Gallery of Ontario (catalogue summaries online)
Tate Modern (Website)
Vancouver Art Gallery (Website)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com. Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx.

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
OBITUARY
 
FISHER, Brian
1939 –  2012

Brian Fisher died peacefully in Adelaide, Australia in the early hours of September 21, 2012 with his family by his side. He was born in Uxbridge, England to Canadian parents. When he was a child, the family moved to Regina, Saskatchewan. Brian attended Regina College School of Art, at the University of Regina. He furthered his art education in Vancouver, British Columbia at the Vancouver School of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art+Design). He then won a scholarship to study at L'Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome, Italy, where he spent two years. In the 1960s and 70s Vancouver became a vibrant art scene.

Brian, an active part of that scene, started to exhibit his paintings during this time. His first solo show was in 1965, at the New Design Gallery in Vancouver. He went on to have many more solo exhibitions and to be included in numerous group shows, both national and international. His work is represented in many public galleries, such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, as well as several universities and private collections. Brian's largest public work was a major mural, commissioned for Dorval Airport, Montreal.

He held several teaching positions: the Vancouver School of Art (1964-65), the University of British Columbia (1968), the University of Calgary (1969), Banff Summer Workshop (1973) and the University of Regina (1976-1983). Brian met and married his wife, Joy Paull, while in Regina. They had two children, Lauren and Matthew.

The family moved to Australia, Joy's home, in 1983. They kept in touch with their many friends across Canada and made a return visit together in 2006. In 2009, Brian visited with his son Matthew. Those of us who knew Brian will miss and think of him, not only as an artist, friend, loving father and husband, but as a compassionate human being. He shall be greatly missed.
 
Source:
Vancouver Sun October 27, 2012

Submitted by M.D. Silverbrooke

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