Travail en atelier de Jim Holyoak en résidence
Jim Holyoak, Travail en atelier, 2018. Photo: ENE/Jean-Sébastien Veilleux photographe

Jim Holyoak

Artist / Fall 2018


Jim Holyoak’s practice is rooted in a constant conversation with his environment in which he never positions himself as an authority; rather, he listens, attentively and empathetically. In his profuse production, he links drawing and writing to reveal a world in which nature is intermingled with what humans build and different realms coexist without hierarchy. The world that he composes accumulates and superimposes times and spaces to create an ambience in which the fantastic opens a different perspective on the real.

The fascinating universe deployed in Jim’s studio during his residency fluctuated between the monumental scale of the two drawings The Who’s Haunts, created in collaboration with Matt Shane (later shown at the Manif d’art 9 in Quebec City) and the intimate relationship that can be established with postcard-size works and notebooks. The projects that he was working on expressed his interest in the materiality of the drawing in space, raising the idea that it is impossible, in his installations and publications, to comprehend the image or narrative in its totality in just one look. The back-and-forth movement between immersive and close-up perspectives brings both artist and spectator into an intimate struggle with the work. Either we are plunged into its all-encompassing grandeur or we discover it in the palm of our hand as we turn the pages of a book.

It is never without a certain sense of vertigo that we look at these images, populated with strange and sometimes monstrous figures, that give shape to an often anguishing unknown. Yet, Jim always intrigues us enough that we want to make our peace with these forms and look further. His works thus summon our imagination in the hope of sharpening our awareness of the world around us. Through his image-filled narratives, he ultimately speaks to us, gently, about coexistence and circumstances.


Jim Holyoak is a drawer and writer, based between Montréal and BC. His discipline is comprised of book arts, ink-painting, and room-sized drawing installations. In parallel to his solo practice, Holyoak has orchestrated numerous collaborative drawing projects, often with fellow artist Matt Shane, and sometimes involving hundreds of people drawing together. Holyoak received a BFA from the University of Victoria, an MFA from Concordia University, and was an apprentice to master ink-painter Shen Ling Xiang, in Yangshuo, China. His imaginative and peripatetic practice has carried him throughout the world in explorations of disorientation, metamorphosis, monstrosity, extinction, ecology and geologic timescales.