John Clinton is a Canadian artist who works out of Toronto and his studio on the west coast of Canada. He studied at the University of British Columbia and Queen’s University. He continued his studies at Toronto’s Central Tech where he studied bronze sculpting under Richard McNeil for many years.
Always fascinated by the three dimensional form Clinton began sculpting in wood early on. From there he branched out and began working in other media such as stone and papier mache. When he began working in bronze in the mid 80’s he found he was able to incorporate the best of the other media into his work in bronze. Working in wood afforded him the opportunity to carve away material to reveal a new form and working with papier mache taught him to be more experimental in the patinas that he would eventually come to use in his bronze pieces.
Having spent his working life in communications, he has focused his professional efforts on “the story well told”. His artistic work is inspired by the characters with whom he comes in contact in his day to day life, and the surprising visuals that he sees play such an important role in communications and persuasion. Sometimes serious and sometimes whimsical, Clinton wants his pieces to make the viewer feel something about the character of the subject in the piece. Whether it be the full figures studies he did in his earlier shows or the masks that he did for his most recent show, he tries to reflect the underlying confidence in his subjects.
Most recently Clinton was commissioned to create a work in bronze for the recipients of the Canadian Diabetes Association’s two highest honour awards, the Charles H. Best Award and the Frederick G. Banting Award.
Clintons work has been in galleries and art fairs in Canada and the US and is in corporate and private collections in Canada, the US and Europe. In addition Clinton was past Vice President and served on the board of the of the PowerPlant Canada’s contemporary art gallery.
I have always focused my sculpting on people, whether it be abstract, real life, or some combination of the two, whatever the media. I am obsessed with the back-story that is conveyed through a gesture, a nuance, or a look. I want my work to tell stories not just express sentiment.
Giacometti, Bernini, and Modigliani, Haida artists such as Bill Reid, and much of the amazing Mask work of the African Tribesmen have influenced my work. Whether the work be figurative, busts or masks this wide variety of style finds its way into each of my pieces as I strive to tell my stories.
Because the larger body of work has progressed from working in wood, stone and clay, to papier mache, and then to bronze, I have found much of the nuance of the story is in the effect that you can create with the patina of the piece. The surface works to define the piece, in effect becoming the texture of the story. I have always been fascinated by the fact that by altering the surface or the texture of something you can change the mood, the feeling and the emotion of your subject and their story. Quite often I find the texture of the piece can define the character of the individual subject.
Working in wood taught me to appreciate how to manipulate the surface to look soft or hard depending of the mood of the piece, stone taught me the power of the polished finish to convey strength and discipline, while paper taught me the power of colour combined with texture and the ability to bring vibrancy to my stories. From that learning I found I could combine and recreate in bronze. It opened up the ability to tell stories in a much more permanent, much more dramatic way.