Jack Bush was born in 1909 in Toronto, but spent most of his childhood in Montreal. From 1926 to 1928, he studied at the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts under Adam Sherriff Scott and Edmond Dyonnet. In the 1930s, he attended night classes at the Ontario College of Art while operating a graphic design studio during the daytime. Bush made figurative paintings until the early 1950s, when he took a definitive turn toward abstraction after the ground-breaking Toronto exhibition Abstracts at Home. In 1953, Bush joined ten other artists to form Painters Eleven, a collective devoted entirely to abstract painting. The group exhibited at the Riverside Museum in New York in 1956, where they caught the attention of acclaimed art critic Clement Greenberg. The following year, Greenberg travelled to Toronto to visit the artists in their studios. The encounter had a significant impact on Bush, who was influenced by this mentor through the remainder of his career.
With its rich palette and energetic strokes, Without Malice (1957) reveals the New York influences that emerged in Bush’s painting during this period. Here, we see the result of Greenberg’s suggestion that the artist try painting without the use of black. This work brings to mind another oil on canvas by Bush, Summer No. 3, painted in 1956 (collection of the National Gallery of Canada).