Bertram Brooker’s eclectic tendencies led him to explore Realism and Cubism, Symbolism and Abstraction, of which he was a pioneer in Canada. In Recluse, the subject becomes a pretext for a study in plastic values and their harmonization in the fictive pictorial space of the canvas. The Cubist-inspired geometric forms define the urban setting, the figure’s clothing and the square set off his face. The dark tones and artificial lighting produce dramatic chiaroscuro-like effects. Although the painting, which dates from 1939, is certainly reminiscent of the figures of the unemployed painted by other Canadian artists, here the solitary man’s somewhat obscured gaze suffuses the scene with an almost menacing strangeness.