By Jesse Laufer
James Gordaneer had a love for painting.
“He said if he couldn’t paint anymore, he didn’t want to live anymore,” said his daughter, Alisa Gordaneer. “That’s kind of what happened the last week of his life.”
James passed away on March 9, at the James Bay Care Centre. He was 82.
A resident of Fairfield and Rockland since 1976, James’s career spanned almost six decades. He was an alumna of the Doon School of Fine Arts, and was tutored by Jock MacDonald and Karl Schaffer. He is also remembered as a teacher, working in Toronto, and also in Victoria at Camosun College, University of Victoria, and the Victoria College of Art until a mysterious illness put him in a coma in 1992.
James was a physically resilient painter, continuing to paint not only after his coma, but he also created more than 100 paintings since suffering a debilitating stroke in 2011. Since his stroke, James went on to produce two more art exhibits.
“He had so many health crises over the years. He had multiple health issues that carried on after the coma. What kept him going was his devotion to his painting,” said Alisa. “(After his stroke) he did a huge series of paintings of locomotives, and some were very dark, and some were very fun.”
James is best remembered for his exhibitions Circus Series, Out of the Shadows, and James Gordaneer: A Life in Painting.
His last painting, Final Self-Portrait in Bed, was completed at the James Bay Care Centre shortly before his passing.
The Gordaneer family are currently working to set up an art scholarship in his name, and the Victoria Art Gallery will be hosting a public celebration of life and work on August 21.