Prime time for the 23 Canadian Prime Ministers at the AGB

artsblue 100x100By Kelly Drennan

February 22, 2018


Kelly Drennan is a graphic designer and emerging visual artist, who has curatorial and sales experience in commercial galleries.  She received a BA (Hons) in Studio Art from the University of Toronto Scarborough and a Diploma in Graphic Design from George Brown College. She is a past member of the James North Art Collective, and has exhibited her work in and around Hamilton and Toronto. Kelly is a board member at Hamilton Artists Inc., and manages  She works and resides in Hamilton, Ontario.

There is something very James Dean about the work of Julio Ferrer that is on exhibit at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

The exhibit features portraits of all 23 Canadian Prime Ministers

Ferrer Julio

Hamilton artist Julio Ferrer

Ferrer’s best known work features iconic figures with political narratives in a pop art style. The artist typically outlines his images in black ink and fills in the rest with high-octane colour. His work is graphic, with a comic book/street art edge.

Both a painter and printmaker, Ferrer is so skilled and paints in such a way that it is sometimes difficult to tell which is a painting is and which is the print.

Recently, Ferrer added some much needed colour to Canadian politics. In honour of Canada 150, he was commissioned to paint portraits of Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers… and paint them he did. They are energized and juicy. It can be noted that this is probably the first time Justin Trudeau will have flaming red hair, and Stephen Harper a magenta suit. Titled “Prime Time”, the paintings are currently on display at the AGB.

Born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, Ferrer graduated from the National School of Visual Arts (Havana) and The International People’s College (Denmark). His work has been exhibited Internationally and he has won numerous awards. Ferrer lives in Hamilton, Ontario with his wife and son.

Ferrer said his earliest memories “are from when I was 6 years old. I used to fill notebooks with drawings and was eager to finish one to start another.

“The world around me. The everyday news. The politics. The music; they all inspire my work.”

Everything Ferrer starts in the search for an idea. “Once that idea reveals, I make a doodle to remember it and after a few days if I still consider it is a good idea, I do my sketch and I transfer to canvas. My technique is quite slow. In order to get the flatness of the colours I do several layers of each colour until I think is flat enough. Red takes up to 10 layers. The work with the lines is very precise. The larger the painting the more difficult the lines are but that challenge is what I enjoy the most.”

When painting he uses acrylics and oils; when print making Serigraphy and Monotypes are the mediums.

Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Hokusai have been the prime influences.

Sir John

Sir John A. MacDonald – the first of the 23 Prime Ministers this country has had.

Ferrer believes the role of an artist is to criticize the bad things that happen in society. Always being smart in the way you project your thoughts and find original ways to reach the people and make them think about any issue that you intend to talk about.

Seven incl Laurier and Tupper

Seven of the 23 Prime Minister: How many can you name?

Much of Ferrer’s work has been described as tongue in cheek. He responds to that with:  “I like the viewer to enjoy not only the quality of my technique but to smile and even laugh with my ideas and to make them think. I find that through humour you can get a unique connection with the viewer. First comes the laugh, then the deep thought.”






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