Jim Holyoak – Bio

Jim Holyoak is a drawer and writer, based in British Columbia, Canada. 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 an MFA from Concordia University in Montreal, and studied as an apprentice to master ink-painter Shen Ling Xiang, in Yangshuo, China. He has attended artist-residencies in New York, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Banff, The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and throughout Norway. His work has circulated widely in Europe and North America, including at the Contemporary Art Museum of Montreal, the GEM Museum of Contemporary Art in The Hague, Tegnerforbundet (Drawing Association) in Oslo, the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in Rīga, the Carnegie Mellon International Drawing Symposium in Pittsburgh, and the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham, UK.


Though the content of my work ranges from the biological to the phantasmagorical, there is a persistent interest in human empathy for other species, and in the difficulty of fathoming deep time – the world millions of years ago, and the world ahead. The animals I contemplate most are the species that never existed, that no longer exist, and those that are on the brink of extinction. For example, dinosaurs fascinate me because they are completely real and completely imaginary – they are monsters for real. This tension between what is real and imaginary, what once existed and no longer exists, is the uniting principle in all my work.” – Jim Holyoak