John Down exhibits in Venice, February 2020.
Working on ‘Vote’ in the Plein Air studio, Halfmoon Bay BC.
‘The Other Side’, part of the 2019-2020 Plein Air Series.
Studio Assistant Beaumont showcases his first multimedia piece.
About John Down
Born in Vancouver, Canada in 1958, John Down studied at Emily Carr College of Art & Design in Vancouver and at the Banff Centre of Fine Arts, Alberta.
John works in several media: painting, sculpture, drawing, ceramics, and
chocolate. His paintings showcase accomplished brush and colour techniques. In his
larger scale paintings, the artist’s images are developed from a foundation that
frequently starts with a sketched structure in pencil or charcoal.
John has been engaged in the creative process since his youth. As Down states, “Life is everywhere around us. The vitality in life makes me want to translate this awareness using my artistry and paintbrush vocabulary.”
John’s work is primarily influenced by the super-natural, micro and fractal patterns, Byzantine and Medieval icons, Persian miniatures, paintings, sculptures, architectures, ceramics and art of any manifestation throughout history.
He has always been particularly fascinated by natural phenomena; the science of fractals and quantum physics – how everything is related to everything and everything else. Over the years, John advanced his techniques in painting, sculpture and ceramics and subsequently pursued studies of art criticism, philosophy and cultural anthropology.
“My paintings embody fundamental symbols of nature. The act of art gives me a greater understanding of myself. It is about my passion for awareness, the truth, and, quite simply, the act of painting itself.” – John Down
John Down became successful while exploring another artistic medium: chocolate. In 1992, John Down and his Partner Joe Guiliano created Christopher Norman Chocolates inauspiciously in a small atelier off the Bowery, in what has now become the infamous/famous Freeman Alley in New York City.
In 2002, John Down was invited by New York City to relocate Christopher Norman Chocolates (CNC) to the Financial Centre of New York City, which was being redeveloped after 9/11.
Once established in the heart of New York, Christopher Norman Chocolates participated in many community-building events such as classes and demonstrations for the neighbourhood’s benefit.
John Down has since lectured on chocolate and art at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, taught packaging design in Tokyo, has been a guest on Martha Stewart, Anthony Bourdain, and Vicki Gabereau television shows. Christopher Norman Chocolates have notably been featured in The New York Times, CBC, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Dean & Deluca, Wholefoods, Washington Post, Newsweek, Toronto’s Saturday Night, Food and Wine, and Bon Appetit.
Like many who were present in the aftermath of the 9/11 disaster, by 2011 John Down became severely ill with aggravating lung and skin conditions, forcing him to close his business in New York City.
In 2014, John Down and Joe Guiliano moved to British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, close to relatives. Since then they have regained health and re-established their chocolate business. Most importantly, John Down has resumed his art work.
John Down’s paintings have been exhibited in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa, in Canada; in Seattle, and New York, in America; in Tokyo, Japan; and more recently in Florence and Venice, Italy. His paintings are in the Seagram Collection, New York, and in Canadian, American and international art collections. He has received numerous commissions; and he was the recipient of the Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation Award. A highlight for John Down was when he was invited by Lord and Taylor to decorate their Fifth Avenue windows in New York with his paintings, joining the ranks of Warhol, Rauschenberg, Duquette, and Jasper Johns, who all fashioned Fifth Avenue windows.
2007 “of Collected Thoughts and Colours” Exhibition 1
Gallery Mirai Garou, Tokyo, Japan: Painting
2007 “of Collected Thoughts and Colours” Exhibition 2
Gallery Saka, Tokyo, Japan: Painting
2004-9 Six Annual Shows at Christopher Norman Chocolates, New York City: Painting
2004 Gallery Saka, Tokyo, Japan: Painting
2003 Garrison Art Gallery, Garrison, NY: Painting
1993 “Kachina” Barrett-Post Contemporary Fine Art, Vancouver, BC: Painting
1992 “Lillooet” Studio Show, Seattle: Painting
1991 “Hidden Language” Lord & Taylor, New York City: Painting
1991 French Culinary Institute, New York City: Painting
1989 The Rivoli, Toronto: Painting
1989 Studio Show, Toronto: Painting
1988 “Water Paintings” Studio Show, Toronto: Painting
1987 “Of Landscape & Paint” Ashton’s Gallery, Toronto: Painting, Drawing
1987 Studio Show, Toronto: Painting
1986 Studio Show, Toronto: Painting
1984 “Bricks Without Mortar” Fire Hall Theatre, Vancouver, BC: Painting
1983 “The Figure” Phoenix Gallery, Vancouver, BC: Painting, Sculpture
1982 “Of Loss & Discovery” Studio Show, Vancouver, BC: Painting, Sculpture
2020 The Body Language, Venice, Italy: Painting
2009 Florence Biennale, Florence, Italy: Painting
2006 Group Show, Gallery Saka, Tokyo, Japan: Painting
1994 “Eros & Identity” Stuart Levy Fine Arts, New York City: Drawings
1992 Gallery Three Zero, New York City: Drawings
1992 Barrett-Post Contemporary Fine Art, Vancouver, BC: Painting
1992 Cornell Medical Library Group Exhibit, New York City: Painting
1991 Edith Wharton Estate Restoration Project, Lenox, Massachusetts: Painting
1991 Gallery [MA]2 International, Toronto: Painting
1990 Jersey City Artists’ Studio Tour, Jersey City, New Jersey: Painting
1988 Gallery L’Autre Aquivouge, Ottawa: Painting
1987 Gallery L’Autre Aquivouge, Ottawa: Painting
1987 Open Space Gallery, Victoria, BC: Sculpture
1987 Phoenix Gallery, Vancouver, BC: Painting, Sculpture
1987 Emily Carr College of Art & Design, Vancouver, BC: Painting
1987 Robson Square Media Centre Gallery, Vancouver, BC: Drawing
1987 Alex Fraser Gallery, Vancouver, BC: Raku Ceramics
1987 Contemporary Craft Gallery, Seattle, Washington: Raku Ceramics
1987 “Wok Containers” Holt Renfrew, Toronto, Ontario: Raku Ceramics
1987 Beverly Lane Gallery, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario: Raku Ceramics
1984 Holt Renfrew, Vancouver: Raku Ceramics
1984 “Containers” Maximilian’s, West Vancouver, BC: Raku Ceramics
1982-83 Langara College, Vancouver, BC: Cultural Anthropology
1981 Emily Carr College of Art & Design, Vancouver, BC: Dennis Burton Painting Workshop
1981 Banff School of Fine Arts, Banff, Alberta: Painting with Eric Fischl and Robert Young
1977-81 Emily Carr College of Art & Design, Vancouver, BC: Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics
1977 Capilano College, Vancouver, BC: Ceramics