Gerard Collins was born and bred in Saint John, New Brunswick, and he has chosen to remain and make his art in the city he calls home. However, the influences and self-imposed rules which govern the act of painting for Collins arise out of a number of currents in 20th Century art. His early education in the visual arts took him well beyond the borders of NB to the St. Martin’s School of Art in London, England, then to the Dusseldorf Staatliche Kunstakademie in Germany and studies under Gerhard Richter one of the world’s leading contemporary artists, and to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he was mentored by conceptual artist Gerald Ferguson.
The fact that Collins’ paintings are quite beautiful seems almost a fortunate afterthought. Artist, and former Director/CEO of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Ray Cronin, has written that, “Collins’ practice is rooted solidly in a world of subversive ideas as befits the conceptual tradition. The fragments, the individual paintings are, finally, records of the fact that art has happened. That Collins is a very fine painter is almost incidental.”
Collins has pursued the practice of rules-based painting since he graduated. Through the course of many series such as the Work Ethic Series, the Harlequin Paintings, the Memory Paintings, Diary Paintings, Factory Paintings, and now the Walt Whitman series, he has continued to create a body of work which, though born out of conceptual strategy, is aesthetically pleasing and definitely beautiful to behold.
Considered to be one of the finest contemporary painters in the region, Gerard Collins has had numerous exhibitions since 1977. His work can be found in many important collections including The National Gallery of Canada, the New Brunswick Museum, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the University of New Brunswick, Mount St. Vincent University, the Owens Art Gallery, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canada Council Art Bank, the New Brunswick Art Bank as well as corporate and private collections. Gerard Collins has been the recipient of Canada Council Grants and New Brunswick Creations Grants and was the 2001 winner of the prestigious Strathbutler Award from the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation.