My father, Nathan Gilbert was a professional photographer beginning his career in Toronto in 1922 after arriving from Kiev, Ukraine. My father inspired in my brothers and I a love of creating images and set before us a high standard of excellence. My brother, Al Gilbert, CM, has continued in the photographic field and is recognized nationally and internationally for his unique portrait style. He is often called the Ambassador of Canadian Photography. His list of credits are almost endless. Al has been voted Canada's Photographer of the Year on several occasions. He holds a Canadian Master of Photographic Arts degree as well as its Fellowship. In addition, he has earned the Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsmen degrees and the Fellowship from The Professional Photographers of America. He is a member of the Order of Canada, holds the Confederate Medal of Canada, and in 1994 was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Photographic Industry of America, and the International Award from the American Society of Photographers. In 2003, Al was the first recipient of the Yousuf Karsh Memorial award from the Professional Photographers of Canada. In 2007 Al was chosen to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Professional Photographers of America, the first Canadian so honoured. He is a popular guest speaker, prized teacher and lecturer around the world.
I, however, took a different route and became a lawyer with a law practice principally in the securities, corporate and business fields. I retired from an active practice in November 1994. However, I maintain a Toronto office and continue to be involved in many entrepreneurial pursuits. At the same time I pursue an active interest in photography.
With the advent of the digital world and digital camera, I decided to create a serious photographic portfolio. This effort has been pursued with the use of a digital camera, a computer, and principally employing a software program called Photoshop. I feel I bring to this process my unique photographic background because of the initial influence of my father and in following the incredible success of my brother's career.
My subject matter has been far ranging and eclectic, from the wild animals in Africa, the ruins in Burma and the jagged peaks, pristine rivers and dusty backwater oases of Patagonia. I am forever inspired by nature, its creativeness, beauty and complexity with its myriad of colours, textures and patterns. In this digital age it seems appropriate to create images that look again at what surrounds us and to reinterpret it. The great American artist, Jackson Pollock, who broke onto the art world in the early 20th century stated: Each age finds its own techniques. How well this comment fits photography in this 21st century digital era. The digital work space and process has given us remarkable efficiency and speed with which visual elements and components can be used to preview and explore possibilities.
Some of my works are a straightforward style of photography that catalogues the typical changes of our contemporary world. Others of my works are abstracted conceptual compositions that are as much about imagination as reality. I shoot a great deal of raw material - images that do not stand alone as a photographic subject but may contribute colour, texture or a small object that may spark my imagination when it is integrated into a larger composition. I save all these possible "components" on my computer.
An intuitive design process begins as I experiment with composing and otherwise manipulating these various components. As Picasso once said "I believe in inspiration, but I hope that it catches me when I'm working." I explore different combinations of the colours, textures, patterns and forms that I find appealing. Through a juxtaposition of objects with organic or structural forms and by altering the scale of various objects relative to other elements, I seek to create a personal interpretation of form, light and colour. Many of my works are unnamed. I trust these compositions stimulate viewers to find their own meanings in accordance with their own individual life experiences.
I had my first show in May of 2003. Click here "Jack's Exhibition at Robert Mede Gallery". The June issue of Artfocus Magazine wrote in part "Photo artist Jack Gilbert stunned the artworld when he sold 68 handprinted digital photos. I have since participated in several other shows. Click on PHOTOS for some of these.
My wife, Ina Gilbert SCA, is a well known artist, whose recent efforts have been to create extraordinary fine art on her computer. Visit her web site at: art4today.com. Two of my daughters are graduates of the Ontario College of Art, while the third is working as a graphic designer and web designer. Visit her web site.
In 2011 I was accepted as a member of The Society of Canadian Artists.