Jacques Hurtubise was born in Montreal in 1939. In 1956, at the age of 17 he attended the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, graduating in 1960. He received the prestigious Max Beckman scholarship to study in New York (1960-61). The work he produced during his time in New York was included in his first solo exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art in 1961 when he was a mere 21 years old. Hurtubise also spent time in China in the mid-1980s. In 1983, he moved to Cape Breton.
He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Grand Prix de Peinture, Concours Artistique du Québec (1965), the Prix Victor-Martyn-Lynch Staunton from the Canada Council of the Arts (1993), and the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas du Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec (2000). He has been exhibiting regularly since 1961 in both solo and group exhibitions across Canada and internationally in the United States, England, Belgium, France, Brazil, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany.
A key figure in Canadian abstraction, Hurtubise was central in the post-Riopelle developments in Quebec, along with his contemporaries Yves Gaucher, Guido Molinari, Claude Tousignant and others. Developed over the past fifty years, his body of work has pushed the definition of “hard edge” abstraction through the use of painterly brushstrokes and a printmaker’s sensitivity for repeated, controlled pattern creating a language of his own. As a result of his time spent abroad, his paintings encompass a range of influences from abstract expressionism to Chinese ceremonial masks.
Working through notions of colour and form, Hurtubise’s paintings are often large in scale, forcing the artist to expend an energy to move his brush around the canvas. Ultimately these paintings are about gesture and mark-making and his strategies to maintain spontaneity.