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Toronto artist David Bolduc dies

David Bolduc, a Canadian artist known for his colourful abstracts and illustrations, has died. He was 64.
Paris Room Terra Neuve, 2010, by David Bolduc. The Toronto artist's work was inspired by his frequent and extensive travels throughout the Canada and the world. ((Christopher Cutts Gallery) )
David Bolduc, a Canadian artist known for his colourful abstracts and illustrations, has died. He was 65.

Bolduc died Thursday evening in Toronto, according to his friend and fellow artist Jeff Spalding.

Spalding, the former director of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, called Bolduc's style "exotic or eccentric modernism" in a tribute written for the Centre for Canadian Contemporary Art.

"Bolduc extended the modernist dialogue championed by Jack Bush, Robert Motherwell and Jules Olitski," Spalding said, naming three of North America's prominent abstract artists.

Shortly after his first Toronto exhibitions in the early 1970s, Bolduc adopted bold use of colours, squeezing oils directly from the tube atop a stained background.

The foundations of his work were drawings he made from nature, and his art incorporates images of flowers, trees and stars. He and painter Alex Cameron took annual sketching trips across the country.

He returned frequently to the rocky coastlines and forests of Newfoundland.

Bolduc also had strong ties to the Toronto literary community and an interest in hand-made books incorporating his own drawings and watercolours.

Kashi, 2008, an oil painitng by David Bolduc, who died Thursday. Many of his works drew on art traditions from around the world. ((Christopher Cutts Gallery) )
He created illustrations for Michael Ondaatje's The Story and for poetry collections by Roy K. Kiyooka, Wayne Clifford, Victor Coleman and David Rosenberg. He was also a regular contributor to Brick magazine.

Bolduc was born in Toronto in 1945 and studied at the Ontario College of Art and Montreal's Museum of Fine Arts School.

His first group exhibitions were in Montreal, including a solo show at the Elysée Theatre in 1966.

In November 1966, he joined the Royal Ontario Museum's conservation department and continued creating geometric canvases and later minimalist sculptures of rope, wood and mirrors.

In 1968, he left the ROM and began the frequent travels that would have an impact on his work, with an eight-month trip to Europe and Central Asia.

Over the next 40 years, he would spend periods in Paris, Spain, North Africa, Mexico, Turkey, the Middle East and China. His work incorporated art traditions ranging from Persian miniatures and Oriental rugs to African art and Asian calligraphy.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Bolduc was "a bright star in the constellation of Canadian art," Spalding said, with annual solo shows.

He was selected to exhibit at Andrew Hudson's 14 Canadians exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, and his works are in public collections throughout Canada.

Bolduc's final show was at the Christopher Cutts Gallery in Toronto this year.

Museums such as AGNS, Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ont., and the Appletoe Museum of Art in Florida are preparing to place works by Bolduc on display in tribute, according to Spalding.