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Charles Bierk: Photorealistic Oil Portraits and Emotional Complexity Within

Familiar Faces

Charles Bierk is an incredible photo-realistic oil painter, who creates works of art that make you question the nature of reality itself. A graduate of Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, where he is now based, Bierk has been painting since childhood, starting off with lessons in oil painting at the age of nine with his father, famous painter David Bierk. Artistic talent clearly must run in the family, as two of his other siblings are also painters.

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"Jonas" by Charles Bierk, oil on canvas, 2014

Charles’ work is heavily influenced by the people surrounding him. His late father was the first to teach him the ‘grid method’ of painting, a technique he still uses in all of his paintings to this day. Most of the subjects in his paintings are people he knows, friends, family members, and more recently, his peers that form the creative community in Toronto.

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"Sarah" by Charles Bierk, oil on canvas, 2014
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"Peter" by Charles Bierk, oil on canvas, 2014

Although at first glance, his paintings merely look like hyper-realistic pencil drawings of random people, it doesn’t take much analyzing to see the raw emotion embedded within. A few seconds looking into the eyes of one of his portraits creates a disturbance inside, an odd sort of connection with a person that doesn’t really exist, but looks as if they could easily be standing right in front of you. Although many of his paintings show the people standing still and with a fairly blank, expressionless face, Bierk manages to capture an incredible amount of complexity and emotion within. He himself says that he hopes his paintings “Can create a sense of empathy from the viewer because we live in a world that quite clearly lacks empathy at the moment.

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"Alegra" by Charles Bierk, oil on canvas, 2014

As a self-employed millennial artist, Bierk describes finding himself at an odd intersection between artistic desire and financial gain. He finds that treating his work as an artist as very similar to a regular 9-5 job is the key to being able to afford to live. Unlike many artists, who cannot work such long hours without suffering burnout, Bierk describes spending eight hours a day, seven days a week painting in his studio when preparing for a show. His dedication to work has paid off though, with his stunning portraits being shown all over Canada.

All images courtesy of Charles Bierk.

You can view more work by Charles Bierk on his Instagram and website.

Article written by Liberty Stembridge

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