Alex Bierk’s latest collection of work will be exhibited at General Hardware Contemporary concurrently with Lyla Rye and Sarah Sands Phillips. In his paintings, he creates photo-realism images of his everyday life. The effect is personal, yet universal and representational, yet otherworldly. It’s been a minute since we caught up with Bierk so we called him up. (Photos by Jay Shuster)
Studio Beat: Alex! A lot has changed since our studio visit. What’s been going on?
Alex Bierk: I had a show last year, Pitfalls and Withdrawls, that went really well. It was a surprise because I was nervous about it. I was working on that body of work for a long time. Just before that show, I had my son Davy–which was exciting and new and crazy. Then, I moved to Peterborough.
SB: How’s that going?
It’s ok. I got boxed out of Toronto a little bit. The bills for our apartment were almost double what we pay for our house here. We have a whole house here and lots of room for my son to run around. I also have a daughter on the way in May. I love Toronto, I love my friends there, I love the community, but we couldn’t afford to stay there and raise a family.
SB: There’s obviously some significance with Peterborough because it’s where you grew up.
It’s a bit disenchanting to come back to Peterborough as an adult. If you’ve ever been back to somewhere from your childhood, you realize that you’ve remembered it differently than how it actually is.
SB: Sounds like there would be less distractions there.
Being distracted was never a problem for me. The way I paint is so time consuming and tedious that there’s no room to be distracted. I do twelve paintings a year. I can’t afford to be distracted.
SB: Is there any Peterborough in your new work?
My work is centred around my everyday experience. It’s personal so you’ll see where I’m at. In Keepsakes, there’s some watercolours of snapshots that I took around Peterborough.
SB: When do you take those photos?
I take a lot of photos when I’m driving. I always have my phone on me–I don’t search out things. I take photos of what comes at me that makes sense. I don’t say, “Today I’m going to shoot doorways” and go on a mission. It just comes naturally, you know?
SB: What can we expect from the show?
It’s pretty straightforward. It’s a lighter ride than the last one–more of a commentary on how I feel today. There’s still stuff from my past in it but also nicer things–a portrait of my wife, a lamp in my grandmother’s living room.
SB: Any Peterborough shoutouts?
There’s Artspace, which is an artist-run centre, and it has a new young curator named John Lockyer. The Art Gallery of Peterborough is great. My brothers and I had a show there in the summer. My studio is right downtown. There’s a lunch spot called Sam’s Place–best sandwiches in town. It’s a deli, BLTS and stuff.
SB: Anything else we should know?
I hate interviews.
SB: Why, what’s up?
I don’t mean it like that–I find it daunting that I spend two months on a painting, all day every day, and then to be caught for five minutes, when I just came in from lunch, in this moment, to talk about that…there’s only so much you can say.
SB: Fair enough. See you at the show.
Alex Bierk, Lyla Rye and Sarah Sands Phillips
GHC will present three concurrent exhibitions from Feb. 12 – March 14.
Hours: Wed. – Sat. 12– 6 pm and by appointment
1520 Queen St. W. Toronto Canada M6R 1A4 Tel. 416-821-3060
416-821-3060 or email@example.com