A Collection of Paintings by Contemporary Artist Damon Dobak

Story by Sidney Ulakovic, Photos by Damon Dowbak

“It’s a place for the person looking at it to discover something,” says contemporary multidisciplinary artist Damon Dowbak of his latest collection of paintings. “And they have to be open to let that make itself known.”

After over four decades in business, Dowbak closed the doors of Kleewyck Stained Glass Studio in 2019 to enjoy some well-earned rest. With newfound free time, another door quickly opened for him in the form of revisiting a foundation of his career as an artist—painting. Over the last five years, Dowbak has been working consistently on a collection of abstract paintings inspired by nature and architecture, which will open at Co.Lab Gallery & Arts Centre later this month.

“My work is very intuitive,” he says. “It starts from not trying to really create something, just trying to get into a space to work from.” Dowbak says he usually paints on raw canvas and, when the weather permits, in the outdoors surrounding his home in Kaministiquia, where the paintings will sit for a certain length of time with exposure to sunlight and water. For the observer, this exposure gives the artwork an essence of having always been that way. “I find that applying paint to raw canvas makes it just soak into the canvas, and it really becomes part of the canvas,” he says.

At the centre of this collection lies a delicate balancing act between form and shapelessness, presence and absence, spontaneity and control—and while some elements of the composition are left to chance, Dowbak’s process is also highly deliberate. “Every brush stroke you make has to have intention,” he says. Many of the paintings in this collection were initially conceived as charcoal drawings, mapping out a guideline for the texture, rhythm, and movement that characterizes the work, all of which continue to evolve as the concept meets colour and canvas. “It’s a kind of call-and-response to what I’m seeing and what I’m feeling from it.”


In some ways, the collection is a culmination of a lifetime of Dowbak’s creative pursuits, from the significance of colour and light from years of glasswork, to the tonalities of the charcoal bearing similarities to the black and white photography he explored as a teenager, to the music evoked by the movement and rhythm of each painting. The collection is in conversation with those unseeable moments in the act of transition, which lend themselves well to being visually abstract. “How the planet weathers, how the seasons change, how things move, how they turn, the effect that water has,” Dowbak says of the collection’s subject matter. “There’s a rhythm to that language.”

The exhibition opens on April 26 and will be displayed until May 12, with a one-time workshop taking place the afternoon of May 11. To see more of Dowbak’s work, follow him on Instagram @damondowbak.