Canadian (born in England), 1888–1955
Sounds Assembling, 1928
oil on canvas
112.3 x 91.7 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery
Bertram Brooker, who lived in Manitoba from 1905 to 1921, was a close colleague of the Group of Seven. In addition to being an artist, Brooker worked as journalist, advertising strategist, cinema manager, and fiction writer. His 1936 novel Think of the Earth won the first Governor General’s Award for Fiction. In 1927 he became the first artist in Canada to exhibit abstract paintings, of which the WAG’s Sounds Assembling is a defining example. In this work Brooker sought to create a visual analogue to music, capturing the dynamism of sound through ricocheting poles of colour and light. In the early 1930s, after meeting the artist Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald, Brooker developed a highly representational style. Sounds Assembling was purchased for the Gallery by FitzGerald, who was Principal of the WAG-affiliated Winnipeg School of Art from 1929 to 1949.