Born in Poland in 1923, Bruno Bobak emigrated to Canada in 1927. At the age of thirteen he began Saturday morning art classes in Toronto under Arthur Lismer and later at the Central Technical School. Aged 20 and just out of art studies at Central Tech, Bruno made his debut as a professional artist. Having enlisted in the army, he submitted a watercolour to an army art exhibition, won first prize, and was appointed as an official war artist in 1944.
Henceforth, he was included in important exhibitions and galleries in Canada, the United States and abroad with opportunity to travel, explore, and broaden his creative experiences. It was during one such study trip to Europe that news arrived of his appointment as artist-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick in 1960. It was to be only a one-year stay in Fredericton, but it turned out to be a lifetime. From 1962 until his retirement in 1987, Bruno Bobak was director of the UNB Art Centre.
In Fredericton, NB during the 60s, from his studio on the campus of the university, Bruno Bobak produced some of his most vital figurative work - large canvases of life-size figures aggressively yet tenderly depicted in a dripping mix of paints, jarring colors and great sweeping gestures of expressionism. Within the relative isolation of New Brunswick, Bobak found himself in an environment and setting which afforded him the mental space and physical opportunity to do and say what he needed in his art. It culminated in a major touring exhibition, Bruno Bobak's "Humanism", which toured the Atlantic region in 1971.
But Bruno Bobak's art was never limited nor confined to a single subject, medium, technique, style or vision. A consummate craftsman, he was equally adept at drawing, watercolors, printmaking, oil painting, mural-making and sculpture. With ingenuity and imagination he also designed and planted vegetable and flower gardens, reinvented uses for discarded industrial materials, designed and decorated his house, and fashioned his own furniture. Such diversification reflected his strong background in design at Central Tech. In the '50s he would head the design department at the Vancouver School of Art. Subjects for art-making also varied: landscapes, figures, portraits, still-life, flowers, vegetables, street scenes, harbours, and buildings. Interestingly, in terms of style, in the past 20 years Bobak has returned to his stark realist style of early years. Textures have become smooth and flattened, colors patterned, the palette heightened in tone, and the structure of compositions more consciously designed and ordered.
Bruno Bobak is a member of the Canada Group of Painters, Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers and Engravers, Canadian Society of Graphic Art, Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, British Columbia Society of Artists, and the Royal Canadian Academy. He has participated in more than two hundred and fifty group exhibitions and has had more than eighty one-man shows, both in Canada and abroad.