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Jack Bush
Haunted House, 1945
Watercolour over graphite on wove paper
58.4 x 79.6 cm
© Estate of Jack Bush

Jack Bush's enormous success as a colour-field painter in the '60s and '70s has greatly overshadowed his early career, when he was gaining recognition during the '40s as one of Toronto's leading painters. To remedy this bias within the National Gallery's collection, a recent purchase was made of seven watercolours dating from 1930 to 1958 from the Bush Estate. Haunted House is among Bush's strongest early watercolours. It is an excellent example of his ability to work with the mainstream of Toronto's conservative and isolated artistic community. Haunted House's asymmetry and its rather naive references to Cubism are typical of the superficial knowledge and understanding of the major trends in abstraction found among Toronto artists of the time. Nevertheless, it does show that Bush was searching for a more advanced artistic language. The vivid accent colours and the sense of motion created by the lopsided chairs and windows presage the essential elements in Bush's colour paintings to come.