One of Canada’s foremost figurative painters has died.
Brian Burke died at his home in Murray River, P.E.I., on Tuesday.
Born in Charlottetown in 1952, he is the son of the late Charles and Gladys (Mullins) Burke and the youngest brother of the late Charles (Sonny), Jack (Pooch) and Robert (Bob).
“It was very sad news to hear that Brian Burke had died,” said Kevin Rice, director of Confederation Centre Art Gallery.
“One of the Island’s most significant painters ever, Burke pursued his long interest in expressive figurative painting with passion and commitment. Brian was an artist who inspired a generation with his body of work, and for making his way in the world as a painter and musician. On behalf of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery I wish to extend my very sincere sympathies to his widow, artist Judith Scherer Burke, at this sad time.”
Terry Graff, a long-time friend, also recognized the artist’s contribution.
“I have long admired Brian’s figurative paintings, which are both beautiful and dark. Burke was a genius at capturing psychological states of being through minimal means. Using thin washes of smoky colour, he created stark vignettes of brooding isolation, estrangement, and loneliness,” says Graff, CEO and chief curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton and former director of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery.
Burke attended the design program at Holland College and one semester at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax.
A ferocious, eclectic reader, he developed his own unique approach to mostly figurative painting. He received support from the Canada Council for the Arts and spent a year painting in New York, where he met his wife, Judith Scherer, originally from Switzerland.
They lived in Dalvay in the National Park, above the Hillsborough River in Cherry Hill and on the Harbour Cove in Murray Harbour.
In the last six years he divided his studio between Murray Harbour and Lucerne, Switzerland.
Over the years, his paintings were exhibited in private and public galleries in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts. His work is in public, corporate and private collections, including the permanent collection of Confederation Centre Art Gallery, TD Trust, the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Canada Council Art Bank.
Resting at the Hennessey Cutcliffe Charlottetown Funeral Home, visitation is Dec. 23, 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
The funeral mass will be held on Friday, Dec. 29, at St. Dunstan’s Basilica at 10 a.m. Interment will be in Murray Harbour Cemetery.
If so desired, memorial contributions may be made to the Island Nature Trust. On-line condolences may be made at www.islandowned.ca.