Charles Bierk: What Was Not Lost

April 2 - 25, 2020

Please contact us at (416) 205-9000 or by email, if you would like to get in touch about this exhibition. An extensive online exhibition is now available in the Viewing Room.


Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Charles Bierk. The exhibition will open on April 2nd and run until April 25th. This is Bierk’s third exhibition at the gallery.


At first glance, a portrait may be judged simply by how well it meets the bar of likeness to its subject, but key to its success as a work of art is the relationship it is able to establish with a viewer, one who may or may not have any prior acquaintance with the person in the painting. Charles’ paintings transfix the viewer not merely due to his technical facility or their often massive scale but, above all, by virtue of their inherent humanity.  

– Daniel Strong

Associate Director and Curator, Grinnell College Museum of Art


Over the last decade, Charles Bierk has continued to explore, through black and white portraiture, male and female subjects of his generation working within the Toronto arts scene. In addition to their remarkably detailed surfaces, the success of his portraits is their emotional presence. They are psychological, layered and deeply personal. For this exhibition, Bierk completed paintings of seven males and females of different ethnicities, most in their early thirties. Presented in a noticeably smaller format than previous exhibitions, Bierk has managed to harness the same tension and drama into a more compact frame.


Bierk has also been developing an alternative approach to portraiture over the last two years which will be presented for the first time in this exhibition. The title, What Was Not Lost, refers to Bierk’s attachment to particular objects that are symbolic of his parents, family members and close friends - mementos of a person or of a time that is now lost. In speaking with his friends, he discovered they too had object collections that were equally nuanced and unique. In painting these collections, Bierk gives each object its own 1 x 1’ canvas and then groups them into cohesive and permanent installations. Once rendered in paint, the objects are no longer at risk of being lost or forgotten. The object paintings convey the same type of person Bierk has always been drawn to – someone that is thoughtful and wise beyond their years – someone that we crave to know.


Charles Bierk was born in 1987 in Peterborough, Ontario. He has exhibited in Canada and the United States. In 2017, Bierk had a solo exhibition at the Grinnell College Museum of Art, Iowa for which a catalogue was published. Bierk’s paintings are included in many prominent collections across the country including a major commission for the Ivey School of Business at Western University in London, Ontario.