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Gordon Roache

View Gordon Roache's Gallery


b. 1937 Born in Halifax, he studied at St. Mary's University with Julius Zarand and privately with Zarand and Ruth Wainwright.
Roach started painting around 1960. To support himself while doing his art he became an employee of the HMC Dockyard at Halifax working in the cost accounting department.
In his art he became known for his generously applied paint on canvas in brilliant colours depicting city life raw and real.
Viewing his work in 1973 Tully Kikauka of The Hamilton Spectator noted, "Born and raised in the part of Halifax where poverty was common, Roache depicts a vast panorama of people he knows: the unemployed, winos, prostitutes, social climbers, exuberant youth, hitch-hikers, old men - all these types make his paintings a continuous vignette of life. There is an all pervading life force - joie de vivre - that the painter emits with his own concentrated energies: (quoting Roache she goes on) 'The children from the poor families don't know they are poor.' His heavy impasto style with oblique, undulating rhythms of brushstrokes has the quality of being unaffected by art styles. The final result, not too unlike the French painter Rouault, is robust, intense rendering of figures that may at times distort, as he is carried away because of his compassion to the subjects that he wants to represent."
In a catalogue in which he organized the exhibition "Survival Atlantic Style", Barry Lord described the artist as follows, "Roache's work has been compared to the canvases of Soutine, and of course both that artist and Van Gogh have influenced him through reproductions. But his paintings are so powerfully his own statements, and so directly and personally based on the life of the poor in Halifax, that any such influences are clearly confined to the methods Roache has found useful, rather than the matter, which belongs solely to the artist and his city. Roache's passionate concern for the people he lives among, and his direct presentation of their realities, bears comparison with Miller Brittain in Saint John in the 1930's more closely than with any European stylistic influences."
Roache completes between 56 and 72 acrylic paintings in an average year. By 1980 he had changed from loud bright tones of red, yellow, orange, blue and black to subdued and muted shades.
His more recent subjects include urban life and Halifax, taking in many buildings that are landmarks of the city. Twenty-six of these paintings were reproduced in a book, Halifax, A.B.C., published in 1987 by Tundra Books of Montreal as part their series on Canadian cities (Alphabet Series).
He established his own gallery in his home in Halifax, which he named The Burning Candle Gallery. His wife Jovanna (Isaac-McKenna) a poet in her own right, does all his public relations.

Exhibitions and Shows:
His solo shows include:
Inn Gallery, Ten Mile House, Bedford, N.S. (1968) (1970) (1972) (1973)
Neptune Theatre, Hal., N.S. (1969)
Centennial Art Gallery, NSMFA, Hal. N.S. (1973)
Gallery 1667, Hal. (1975)
Gallery Ingenu, Tor. (1975)
The Burning Candle Gallery, Hal. (1976) (1978) (1979) (1980)
Halifax Business Academy (1977) (1978) (1979) (1980)
Retrospective touring, A.G.N.S. (1975)
Lord Nelson Hotel, Hal. (1981) (1982) (1984) (1985) and others.
He has exhibited in many group shows including "Survival Atlantic Style" organized by Barry Lord and circulated during 1979-80 to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Ontario.

Awards and Accomplishments

He is represented in the collections of the Province of Nova Scotia; Nova Scotia Provincial Art Bank and many private and corporate collections internationally.
His awards include:
First Place, Atlantic Winter Fair (I974)
First Place, Maritime Art Association Exhibition (I978).

-Colin S. Macdonald, Dictionary of Canadian Artists

Other Information

Category: Paintings


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