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Barbara McGivern
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Barbara grew up in Toronto and at the age of 5 her painting skills were first recognized. In 1971 Barbara went to Europe, for 5 years. Finally settling in London in the fall on 1974 she became a member of The Arts Club, Mayfair. and Chelsea Arts Club. Returning to Toronto in 1976 she worked with Columbia Pictures Television until 1981 when they stopped producing TV programs in Canada. She then started painting at her first art studio in downtown Toronto, her work at that time was very naive and was inspired by the English artist Beryl Cook, In 1984 she got accepted by the Ontario College of Art and Design. Barbara studied under famous Canadian artists such as Graham Coughtry and Jack Cassidy and also did two workshops with Eric Fischl and Susan Rothenberg at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario.

Barbara graduated in 1988 in Experimental Arts, Honours, at OCA. In 1992 Barbara went to Russia where saw the shows of the Impressionist artist Matisse at the Hermitage and Fernando Botero at the Pushkin, Moscow. During the same trip Barbara saw the Barnes Collection at Musee D'Orsay, Paris and was inspired by such master pieces. She produced a series of paintings based on the Impressionist, with her own interpretation of The Barnes Collection, (Alfred Barnes, philanthropist, USA), which was later shown at Musee Hotel Baudy in Giverny. Throughout the 90's McGivern was represented by galleries in Yorkville, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton as well as Dubai, Zurich, Berlin, London, Paris and Madrid.

In Barbara's words:

"I have found that the gold has added an empowering element to my paintings by adding a richness that could never be achieved with any other material. I paint over it, drip paint on it and sometime cover it up completely because I did not like the painting and started over...there are many paintings out there with layers of gold under them...but you can not melt the gold down as it is so fine and wafer thin....but I could not use anything else but real gold.. " Barbara.

Artist Statement

McGivern aims to remind the viewer of the magic and of the dream world that surrounds us within our everyday natural environment. Communication takes place on a level beyond conversation and space is breached not by time but by a relationship with something or someone in the distance. Movement and relationships are then redefined and what is left is an uncanny affinity with what was at first a totally alien environment. The space between the painting and the viewer is then minimalized by the harmony of the image, thus allowing the viewer to make the experience totally their own. McGivern’s aim is to create an explosion of energy, to generate an electric shock to the senses that awakens the uninhibited childlike freedom that is within us all but has perhaps been lying dormant. McGivern means to create a world that viewers recognize but at the same time take them to a re-represented world that they feel uplifted and energized by. Due to her own investigative journey into each piece, McGivern intends to allow the viewer, not only to follow her path, but to encourage them to explore individually and eventually make the piece and the narrative their own.

She passed away in 2019 at 73 years young.

There is a wonderful video interview of Barbara posted on the Biography page of her website, click here to visit the page.

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Updated last on February 10, 2024

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