Sam Borenstein
(Canadian, 1908-1969)

Sam Borenstein was a Lithuanian-born Canadian Expressionist painter who immigrated with his family to Montreal, Canada in 1921. His work has been compared that of Marc Chagall and Vincent Van Gogh, though Borenstein’s oeuvre is distinct in his Surrealist flavour. Borenstein created hundreds of works over the course of his career and, although he did not find much success during his lifetime, his work has become quite desirable in the contemporary Canadian market.

During his youth, Borenstein taught himself to paint by capturing the people and places surrounding him with exaggerated brushstrokes and vivid colours, working directly on his canvas with a palette knife. He aimed to paint the essence of things such as responses to the weather as well as emotions associated with people and places. His work is at once personal and expressive of universal human experience.

His work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Manitoba, the Art Gallery of Hamilton in Ontario, the National Portrait Gallery in England, as well as the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal in Quebec, the last of which held a retrospective of his work in 2005. His daughter, Joyce Borenstein, a filmmaker and artist herself, created a short film of his life titled, Colours of My Father: A Portrait of Sam Borenstein (1991), which won nine international awards.

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