George Jenkins

About the Artist

John George Jenkins was born in the small town of Wilkie, Saskatchewan, in 1920. He grew up on his father’s farm near Lloydminster, which straddles the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. Jenkins spent three years in the Canadian Army during World War II, including service overseas, before returning to Lloydminster. He then moved to Vancouver Island, where he worked in logging camps and lumber mills.

Jenkins always felt a close affinity to nature, which he expressed through  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  and painting. He began to paint while living and working on Vancouver Island, but it was only after he returned to Saskatchewan for a visit in 1969 that he decided to become a full-time painter, at age 49. “The landscape hit me in a powerful way, absorbed me,” he said. “Then I got into  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  for my life work.”

Jenkins’ life work revolved around capturing in his paintings the  rhythmPrinciple of design where elements are repeated to create the illusion of movement. There are five kinds of rhythm: random, regular, alternating, progressive and flowing.  of the seasons on the prairies, which “change suddenly and distinctly. Spring is best,” he noted, “with new life beginning everywhere. It is emotionally stimulating, even though one knows the harder times of fall and winter must come. I try to show this in my work.” (Agghazy Gallery, 1979)

Jenkins was a self-taught painter; he learned by reading, looking and doing. He perfected his method of painting - which he called “abstract realism” - by eliminating what he considered to be inessential details and taking great care in painting what remained. “Objects appear with an unnatural, dream-like clarity that gives the paintings an eerie, abstracted look,” he said of the effect he sought to achieve.

Jenkins also believed an artist should have a social and political point of view that was reflected in his or her work. “A plough in a field can be a landscape,” Jenkins said, “but the abandoned field in the  backgroundPart of the picture plane that seems to be farthest from the viewer.  gives the painting social significance and the work takes on an entirely different meaning.” (Rees, 1984)


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning