Meet the artist

My Story

John Kissick

John Kissick is an artist, published author, and academic professor from Guelph, Ontario. Throughout his career, his work has been featured internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and publications and he has written extensively about contemporary art in a variety of periodicals.

Education and Academic Appointments

In 1985, John Kissick obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He moved on to obtain a Master of Fine Arts from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. John also later completed the Management Development Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

In 1987, Mr. Kissick started his first academic appointment as an assistant professor of art at the School of Visual Arts at Penn State University. From 1993, he worked as an Associate Professor of Art, up until 1999, when he was made a Professor of Art and area head of Critical Studies. John Kissick returned to Canada in 2000 and became the Dean of the Faculty of Art at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto. He also acted as the Director of the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph from 2003 to 2014. Since 2003, he has been a Professor of Art at the University of Guelph’s School of Fine Art and Music. 

John has also acted as a visiting lecturer for the University of California at Berkeley (Extension) and a visiting exchange tutor for the University of Ulster at Belfast in Northern Ireland.

John Kissick’s Art

As a contemporary artist, John Kissick is known for his critically acclaimed abstract paintings, which feature a hybrid pictorial space and balance historical references and current pop culture. His work has been featured in galleries such as Katzman Contemporary and Leo Kamen Gallery in Toronto, the Michael Gibson Gallery in London, Ontario, Peter Wide Gallery in Berlin and more. His over thirty solo shows include exhibitions in Canada, the U.S., and Germany, as well as two nationally touring shows with extensive catalogues. 

In 2008, at the Leo Kamen Gallery, his “Fever Visions and Abstract Rapture” exhibition aimed to envision an abstract pictorial strategy akin to fever visions, a term coined in the 1920s to describe visual delirium. As a mid-career survey which toured from 2010-2012 entitled “A Nervous Decade,” brought together 19 paintings from public and private collections throughout Canada and included a major publication. In 2016, his painting The Burning of the Houses of Cool Man, Yeah, was featured at Katzman Contemporary in Toronto and subsequently was part of a major survey of Canadian painting at the Vancouver Art Gallery. 

Most recently, John Kissick unveiled his solo exhibition “Too Near the Bone,” which was on display at Gallery House in Toronto from July 10 to August 13, 2020. The exhibition marks a transition for the artist, as he explores a more atmospheric space and expressive gestures. The work is inspired in part by the late paintings of J. M. W. Turner , which are in turn critically reappraised for their abstract potential.

John Kissick has enjoyed significant critical acclaim and has been featured in various articles in well-known publications such as the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Canadian Art Magazine, the New Art Examiner, the Post Gazette, and Border Crossings Magazine.

Too Near The Bone (72x66)

Additional Work

Mr. Kissick has also been part of various panels and lectures on contemporary art and has been interviewed at conferences and events. He has given talks as a visiting artist and has been a guest critic for many venues. He has also been part of many professional boards and committees.

John Kissick has also written many essays for art periodicals. He has been nominated for a Canadian Magazine Award for Best Essay in 2009 and 2010. In 2014, his essay “Racing to the Unfinish Line: The Drawings of Ron Shuebrook,” won the Ontario Association of Art Galleries Curatorial Writing Award for Best Essay.