Jack Chambers: Life & Work by Mark Cheetham

Renowned in the 1970s as Canada’s highest-earning artist and one of its most significant experimental filmmakers, Chambers (1931–1978) transformed scenes of ordinary life in London, Ontario, into extraordinary high realism paintings, based closely on his personal life. Read or download the online art book here: http://www.aci-iac.ca/jack-chambers
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Chambers’s work “Regatta No. 1,” (1968, Museum London) won the painting prize at Canadian Artists ’68, an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Chambers’s work “Regatta No. Museum London) won the painting prize at Canadian Artists an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Jack Chambers, “photographic studies for 401 Towards London No. 2,” 1968 (unfinished), and “401 Towards London No. 1,” 1968–69, Art Gallery of Ontario.

Jack Chambers, “photographic studies for 401 Towards London No. 1968 (unfinished), and Towards London No. Art Gallery of Ontario.

Ross and Marion Woodman were lifelong friends and mentors of Chambers. Jack Chambers, “Portrait of Marion and Ross Woodman,” 1961, Collection of Marion and Ross Woodman.

Ross and Marion Woodman were lifelong friends and mentors of Chambers. Jack Chambers, “Portrait of Marion and Ross Woodman,” Collection of Marion and Ross Woodman.

In “Olga and Mary Visiting,” (1964–65, Museum London) Chambers uses a radically fragmented visual presentation to convey the dynamism of a casual domestic conversation between his wife, Olga, on the left, and her friend Mary.

In “Olga and Mary Visiting,” (1964–65, Museum London) Chambers uses a radically fragmented visual presentation to convey the dynamism of a casual domestic conversation between his wife, Olga, on the left, and her friend Mary.

Victoria Hospital was where Chambers was born and where he died. “Victoria Hospital,” 1969–70, private collection.

Victoria Hospital was where Chambers was born and where he died.

Chambers’s influence can be seen in the work of Toronto painter Sheila Ayearst in her work “The 401 Towards London: Median,” (1992, collection of the artist).

Chambers’s influence can be seen in the work of Toronto painter Sheila Ayearst in her work “The 401 Towards London: Median,” collection of the artist).

Chambers’s mother, Beatrice (née McIntyre), and his father, Frank R. Chambers.

Jack Chambers’s mother, Beatrice (née McIntyre), and his father, Frank R.

Chambers went to art school in Spain, becoming close with fellow student Antonio López Garcia, going on to form a group called the New Spanish Realists. Antonio López García, “My Parents,” 1956, Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d’art modern.

Chambers went to art school in Spain, becoming close with fellow student Antonio López Garcia, going on to form a group called the New Spanish Realists. Antonio López García, “My Parents,” 1956, Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d’art modern.

In March 1961 Chambers returned to London, where he was amazed by the burgeoning art scene, led by his soon-to-be close friend Greg Curnoe. Curnoe, “The Great Canadian,” 1965, Thielsen Gallery.

In March 1961 Chambers returned to London, where he was amazed by the burgeoning art scene, led by his soon-to-be close friend Greg Curnoe. Curnoe, “The Great Canadian,” Thielsen Gallery.

Kim Ondaatje, Jack Chambers, and Tony Urquhart at the second National Conference of CARFAC, 1973.

Kim Ondaatje, Jack Chambers, and Tony Urquhart at the second National Conference of CARFAC,

Jack Chambers in his studio in the late 1960s, photographed by Michael Ondaatje.

Jack Chambers in his studio in the late photographed by Michael Ondaatje.

Nancy Poole, Chambers’s art dealer, in London, Ontario.

Nancy Poole, Chambers’s art dealer, in London, Ontario.

Painted the year after Chambers returned to Canada from Spain, “McGilvary County,” (1962, Art Gallery of Ontario) records a vision of dead relatives’ faces floating above a fantasy landscape and an overladen table set for a holiday celebration.

Painted the year after Chambers returned to Canada from Spain, “McGilvary County,” Art Gallery of Ontario) records a vision of dead relatives’ faces floating above a fantasy landscape and an overladen table set for a holiday celebration.

Chambers’s so-called silver paintings are radical works in aluminum paint that use the positive/negative visual effects of the paint to convey movement. Chambers, “Plus Nine,” 1966, Art Gallery of Ontario.

Chambers’s so-called silver paintings are radical works in aluminum paint that use the positive/negative visual effects of the paint to convey movement. Chambers, “Plus Nine,” Art Gallery of Ontario.

Chambers’s film “Circle,” (1968–69, Art Gallery of Ontario) explores many of his central themes: the life cycle, the effects of light, domesticity, and transcendence through everyday experience.

Chambers’s film “Circle,” Art Gallery of Ontario) explores many of his central themes: the life cycle, the effects of light, domesticity, and transcendence through everyday experience.

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