Friday, January 19, 2007


  • 1951 Born in lull 'tween winter storms with twin bro' Dave.

  • 1954 Want to write, ask Mom for letter to copy, meaning postal article. She misunderstands, gives me two letters: the word is.

  • 1956 With Dad at river bank see animal tracks. Imitate with stick in sand. Seeing levelled sand heart sunk. Looking up saw someone splashed red and yellow paint on bridge's buttress. Decide to paint when grown.

  • 1957 School daze. Perceived numbers as cartoons of kids. Parents deeply worried, explain symbols.

  • 1958 Sister Trudy born. Father dies. Deeply impressed by idea of God. Decide to become God when grown. Or invisible anyway. Played with mud and finger paint.

  • 1963 Exit Hebrew school, into the secular. Dance, romance. Mother dies. Childhood ends.

  • 1964 Anglican Boarding school, Victoria, B.C.. Painful. Begin to write poetry, a lifelong love.

  • 1969 Meet future wife, pass love-lettered spring holding breath, followed by summer perfect to boredom. Stumble 'to basement: hand and Eye Spy paint, hand finds bru--...a piece of p--...a jar of w--. ...fell into painting.

  • 1971 Married in Calgary. Cross-Canada camping trip.

  • 1973 Studied at Vancouver School of Art painting department (to '77).

  • 1974 Travelled to London, Paris, Amsterdam and their museums.

  • 1976 Co-founded the Vancouver School of Art Student Society and the Helen Pitt Gallery.

  • 1977 D-i-v-o-r-c-e.

  • 1979 First solo show of paintings: Kits House Gallery, Vancouver. Also Ridge Theatre Gallery.

  • 1982 Exhibited at Surrey Art Gallery (Surrey, B.C.): "Four Painters". First trip to New York city to see art. What that’s about? in front of Pollock. Then I see the couple barbequeing a man, a woman by the snow fence, ho-humming the autumn day. Right. Got it. Wow. Picasso: wall to wall human speaking flesh.

  • 1984 Begin Limbo paintings. Write “Status Quo.” a broken-language poem.
  • 1985 Begin ongoing series of drawings, Screen Paintings.

  • 1986 Write a 45 page poem, Sweeney’s Barrels, in protest of Canada's last barrel factory’s expropriation.

  • 1987 Black Drawings.

  • 1989 "Smear" drawings.

  • 1990 Move to Toronto. Begin “Roberta Drive” poems.

  • 1991 Solo exhibition: Paintings & Drawings, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Hart House, University of Toronto. Reviewed in Globe & Mail. Exhibited at Art Dialogue Gallery. Begin to compose songs.

  • 1992 Solo Show: The Overful. Also exhibited at Art Dialogue Gallery, the Attic Gallery. Began Blackboard Paintings.

  • 1993 Solo show: The Overful. Also showed at Art Dialogue Gallery, Attic Gallery, M.T.C.V.A..Began Ravine paintings. Beging “Atlantic Avenue” poems.

  • 1994 Solo Show: The Beauty Box. Also showed at the Art Gallery of Ontario Art Rental & Sales Gallery, Third Rail. Begin Open The Box.

  • 1995 Solo Show: The Roastery. Also exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario Art Rental & Sales Gallery, Third Rail. Finish Open The Box.

  • 1996 Solo show: Newman Gallery. Also exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario Art Rental & Sales Gallery.

  • 1997 Solo shows: Liberty Street Café, The Rustic Cosmo Café. Also exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario Art Rental & Sales Gallery. Continue work on drawings.

  • 1998 Group show: Gallery 1313. Also exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario Art Rental & Sales Gallery. Continue work on drawings. Join choir, sing baritone.

  • 1999 Group show: Gallery 1313

  • 2000 Solo show Gallery 1313. The idea begins to occur to me that our ability to experience life is limited by the ways in which we can represent it.
  • 2001 Bad year. Kidney failure, dialysis begins, thyroidectomy, start book called 11 Eaton South, a dialysis journal.

  • 2002 Drafted by tenor section. Continue work on 11 Eaton South, begin Perseus Poems.

  • 2003 Begin 8’x16’ painting. Heart attack. Up singing in 10 days. Resume work on painting.

  • 2004 Begin to arrange music.

  • 2005 Difficult year, then received a kidney transplant on my 54th birthday.

  • 2006 Spent 2006 and part of 2007 rethinking painting. Whole new range of color and color relations. Become uninterested in composition and only in the relation of the relations of colors.

  • 2008 Group show: 8 Artists for 2008 at John B. Aird Gallery where I show The Long Crossing for the first time.

Monday, January 1, 2007


  • He changes the world most who lives in it best.
  • Intelligence is moral courage.
  • The fact is a detail of the miracle.
  • A great passion leads itself home by the hand.
  • The universe is the scale of scales.
  • The milk of peace is sweet but its dregs are bitter war.
  • A man who is part of the whole is a whole man.
  • Belief separates the believer from the object of belief.
  • God is the ceaseless shock of the real.
  • A man is a heart and a heart is a fist banging on heaven.
  • A man is he who leaves his mother and adopts is his own body of experience to be his new mother.
  • [My brother, on God] “Toasters were invented: they exist.”
  • The real world is real because anything can happen.
  • Courage mediates between faith and will.
  • Death is God's way of saying: "You don't really want to know."
  • Our souls are formed by our acts.
  • Losers envy, winners admire.
  • A longing heart makes for a long memory.
  • Reason has more need of faith than faith of reason.
  • Compassion needs no conscience; conscience needs no law.
  • Good memory is a function of honesty.
  • Without limits all hope is vain.
  • An innuendo is an accusation made by a coward.
  • The world will never suit those who strive to make it better.
  • A ton of doubt and a feather of faith is a ton of faith.
  • There is only one here and its time is always now.
  • Our souls are the sums of our aspirations.
  • You can’t humiliate a humble man.
  • To imagine a world without adversity is to suffer.
  • Loving everyone is loving no one.
  • Resistance proves leadership.
  • A tyrant sows in the soil of kindness and reaps in the name of justice.

  • Art is revelation, not furniture.
  • A masterpiece is a marriage of truth and fact.
  • The avant-garde is a bridge-head—not a bridge-burning.
  • Art is a commitment to a self-transcending content.
  • In "political art galleries" there is neither art nor politics.
  • To be moved by a work of art is to understand it.
  • The sentence, "everything is political," is also political.
  • No functioning system is arbitrary.
  • There is no abstraction without representation, and vice-versa.
  • Art is the entertainment of virtue.
  • Tragedy is a death that threatens the death of meaning.
  • I've been told a lot about journalism.
  • I don't like "People's Poetry": I am committed to a poetry of the mouses.
  • Discovery is recognition.
  • Boredom is the herald of insight and accomplishment.

© 200, 2007 Dan Goorevitch

Notes on Art

- About art
- About artist's statements
- Personal statement about artistic creation
- The purposes of art
- Notes on art appreciation
- On abstraction and representation
- Reasons to have and to collect art
- Notes on technique
- Notes on art's value, market and otherwise.


People say that art is expression. But a man may spit on the street, scream and rant, without its being art. They say it's communication but so is the local news, so are the buy and sell orders of the day trader: There may be an art to both but it's not what we mean by art as an activity in its own right. Art is articulate expression that captures something universal about human experience and so, without intending to, the spirit of one's time.


The very first thing an artist does when he paints a portrait is to take a line, a shape, a tone, a color from the subject and recombine them in a pattern that is recognizable as the subject. The first part of this process is called abstraction, the second part is called representation.

The problem of painting consists in choosing what to put in and what to leave out. Since every subject lives in three dimensions of space and one of time, much more must always be left out than put in. The artist emphasizes those features which best represent the subject and leaves out anything that might detract from that which is deemed to be its essence.

Abstraction and Representation are the two feet that painting walks on. There is no "abstract art" that is not "representational" and there is no "representational" art that is not "abstract." There are just different choices about what is vital or superfluous to the subject.

The less the artist puts in, the more emphasis is given to particular attributes of the subject. Those attributes stand as symbols for the subject. Just as shapes, colors and lines are recombined in a relationship that recalls the portrait subject, so the "abstract artist" recombines symbols to express his vision of life.

Since more must always be left out than put in, the artist rarely catches more than a sliver of life. But, bit by bit, as his vision grows, his paintings become ever more densely compacted symbols of experience. He is driven again and again, despite the seeming impossibility, to express the whole of life, as he feels and sees it, in a single image. Sometimes the impossible is achieved: we call such paintings masterpieces. In them, what we see, what we imagine we see, and what is there are one.


It is difficult for artists to talk about creation because the painting, the drawing, the piece of music or dance is the statement. No words can ever substitute for the experience of art. In order to understand art you must spend time with it. With a little patience (at first) and confidence (which will increase) you will find the time increasingly well spent.

Don't worry about "understanding" art. The artist is himself never completely aware of the meaning or weight of his own creations. This is because art proceeds to consciousness from the unconscious. Art that doesn't (so-called conceptual art) is hollow and sterile-any statement about it-its hallmark is its muddiness-is irrelevant since such stuff will never move a single human heart.


One mild Sunday in Autumn, our father took my twin brother and I down to the North Saskatchewan River. Dad skipped rocks and I grabbed a stick and wrote my name in the sandy mud that lined the shore. Scotch mist was in the air and I wondered if my name would still be there next week. As I looked down the riverbank I saw nothing but smooth sand. My heart sunk and I looked up. There, painted on the bridge's concrete butress, some brave fool painted a bright red and yellow X. My heart leaped as I thought: "That will last. That's what I'll do." I was six years old.

On a beautiful summer day the following year my father died and ten years later I began to paint. It was a perfect summer day. I was completely content but bored. Mucking around in my grandmother's basement with some of my sister's poster paints, Adam and Eve in the Garden emerged from the muddy paint. This magic of emerging figures has been a life-long fascination. "What will come out?" is the question I ask when I paint and draw.

I want to pass down to people I will never know, something of my experience of life in the hope that it might be a source of solace and strength to them in the way I've been fed and inspired by artists who never knew me. I feel privileged to be in that chain of spirit that continues through the creation of symbols that share directly the feeling of life.


Besides being a supreme activity for engaging one's curiosity, art has other purposes. Through it, men and women communicate their understanding of their experience to people of other places and times. A culture is this body of accumulated understanding.

There is no place in my world for the abuse of art as political propaganda. The "everything is political" excuse won't do. If true (and it's not), that statement would be political too; its purpose as transparent as the totalitarian systems it seeks to serve.


The greatest obstacle to the appreciation of art is the viewer's lack of confidence. Viewers too often think that in order to "understand" art they must have read numerous books, be of above-average intelligence, be very sensitive, etc..

With the exception of sensitivity, this is all malarkey. One needs only to expose one's self to art, to observe what feelings the artwork engenders (or fails to) and to honestly relate those feelings to the parts and the whole of the artwork. There is nothing to "get". The answer is inside you. You know what the work of art means. All you need is to have faith in your own judgement.

But a warning. A dismissal is not what I mean by judgement. Grading a work as good, better, best, poor or appalling will do nothing for your appreciation of art. The meaning of the work, if false, may be legitimately dismissed but first the meaning must be found-the meaning to you personally. Act on this level, trusting yourself, and there's not a single painting or drawing you won't be able to "read." The ones you detest will make you love the ones that move you all the more. To paraphrase Fellini (who was paraphrasing someone else): Just look at the painting. If it moves you, no explanation is necessary. If it doesn't move you, no explanation will suffice.

Enjoy. Spend time with artworks and you will benefit enormously from a cultural heritage that belongs to you as much as it belongs to any other human being.


Investment is a tricky reason and should be struck from the list unless your art consciousness is extremely well developed or you trust some advisor whose is. By art consciousness I do not mean a knowledge of the art world, of theory, of technique, trivial facts about artists' biographies and the rest. I mean an innate and/or cultivated recognition of art's intrinsic worth gained from years of exposure to art coupled with a fundamental love for it. Art consciousness may be more scientifically defined as the ability to perceive any whole out of its disparate parts.

Enjoyment is a better purpose of collecting. Get something nutritious, get something tasty.

I buy art because:

1) The work reminds me of some important principle I feel I too easily forget.
2) I want to support some young master by acquiring one of his/her works that I profoundly enjoy.
3) I am intrigued by it.



I use graphite pencils on paper that is usually wider than it is high. I love panoramic drawings and paintings. I mean to get to the sweep of events because that's what moves me. Hopefully it's infectious.

I often use Clearprint because it erases ghost free with light applications. Erasing it, though, is an adventure. It goes from light to white very quickly so, to get lighter tones requires a deft touch. Without near-whites, whites are either too stark or not stark enough for their expressive purpose. The same is true for blacks. Clearprint is not an ideal paper for graphite (particularly the soft graphite I prefer) but is has one redeeming feature-it smudges beautifully. Clearprint lets me draw white into black and black into white simultaneously-all with the same tool-the lowly eraser! Magic!


I like to mix color and leave the viewer to construct what they will. As in the drawings, I prefer suggestions of figures to fully worked out ones. Their open-endedness feels more free and more vigorous. More movement is implied and they are therefore more life-like. Life moves and breathes: it speaks.

I use the best acrylic paint I can afford. It dries quickly so they're painted in layers. I often mix directly on the canvas to see color emerge. This is akin to the figures emerging in the drawings.

Update: I am now working with oils, which dry more slowly and scrape in a way similar to how the graphite erases on Clearprint. Like my acrylic paintings, I use the very best materials available. I guarantee all my work for life: any piece can be returned for a credit. That way one can start collecting small and move up.


Techniques must be tailored to purpose. Artists! Don't take courses on technique! Save your money for paint and canvas. Learn from practice and observation. Find out what you want to do and invent the technique you use to achieve it.


If art had no intrinsic worth its commercial value would be nil.Market value is established like all other things, by supply and demand. The concept of "Giffin Goods" I was taught at school is a bust. The theory goes that some goods are valuable in spite of low demand. The mistake is in failing to see that each artwork is unique and is therefore exceptionally scarce. If only thirty people are willing to pay $10M or $20M for a Van Gogh, for example, the absolute number of buyers may be low but it is still thirty times the available supply! The high price bid at auction represents only the top of a legitimate pyramid of demand.

This pyramid is based (I must repeat it for emphasis) on the intrinsic worth of the art. The market value is extrinsic. Extrinsic value never effects the intrinsic worth.

Ultimately the only question is this: does it have a value for me? If it does, explore it and enjoy the trip!