Artist bio

Born in 1995 in Moscow, Russia, Josh Tiessen is an international award-winning artist based near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, He was listed as one of the world’s top ten prodigy artists (Huffington Post) and recognized as the only known male art prodigy in North America (Dr. J. Ruthsatz, international child prodigy expert). His hyperreal shaped oil paintings, which take up to 1700 hours to complete, reflect the interaction between the natural world and human-made structures, drawing upon his studies in philosophy, theology and intercultural aesthetics. As a teenager, ranked among the world’s foremost realist artists, Tiessen was juried in as the youngest member of International Guild of Realism, Artists for Conservation and Society of Animal Artists, elite groups of the top nature and wildlife artists worldwide. As a young adult, Art Renewal Center designated him “Associate Living Master,” and New York based gallery Jonathan LeVine Projects awarded him First Place from 2000 artists in their international competition Search for the Next Great Artist. LeVine presented the emerging artist’s debut international solo exhibition in May of 2019. Mentored by masters such as acclaimed Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman, Tiessen has exhibited his work since 2006 in over 100 exhibitions including the National Gallery of Canada, and is frequently juried into group exhibitions throughout the United States. He has sold upwards to 150 originals and hundreds of limited edition giclée prints to private/corporate Canadian and international collectors. Featured over 200 times in the press & media (American Art Collector, International Artist), speaking and teaching at 60 venues, and making 90 invited art donations to charitable organizations, Tiessen established the Arts for a Change Foundation. Josh Tiessen Studio Gallery has been voted #1 Art Gallery in the region for the past 8 years, and Josh Tiessen has been voted #1 Best Local Artist, added to over 60 awards and honours including IGOR Creative Achievement, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 for artistic achievement and philanthropic work. In spite of early success, Tiessen humbly acknowledges that his artistic talent is a gift from God.


Rise Up



Artist Statement

"Rise Up" is one of seventeen paintings in my Streams in the Wasteland series, which explores the relationship of humans and the natural world, as well as hope in the face of destruction. Taking over 650 hours to complete, this is one of my largest paintings to date. To highlight the spiritual context in which I desire the painting to be interpreted, I designed a triangular panel and medieval altarpiece frame with 'wing-like' doors to emphasize the transcendent orientation of the subject matter.

"Rise Up" is a sequel to my previous work "Can These Bones Live?" Both of them explore a visual interpretation of "The Valley of Dry Bones" from Ezekiel 37. This ancient book records the prophecies of Ezekiel to his fellow Jewish refugees, who have been taken by King Nebuchadnezzar from their homeland of Judah to Babylon. In this vision are sun-bleached bones and skeletons symbolic of the Jewish exile, which according to Ezekiel happened as a result of their rebellion against the Creator. God’s Spirit breathes and the bones rattle together, taking on flesh and coming back to life, a metaphor for national resurrection. It was an image of hope for the Jewish exiles who would one day return to their Promised Land. In the broader context of the whole Bible, this vision of homecoming foreshadows the promise of transformed hearts through grace, enabling the people of God to live in a new universe of justice and peace traditionally referred to as heaven. I approached my painting as a modern interpretation, seeing the Monarch Butterflies as symbolic of breathing new life into lifeless human bones, signifying a cultural metamorphosis. Species like these Monarch Butterflies, fifteen to represent the model’s age, will flourish once again.

While many artists have visually interpreted the prophet Ezekiel's vision to depict a commanding army of soldiers, I was interested in portraying the spiritual nature of the battle, a theme which is taken up by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-12.

How it fits into contest

The meaning of my painting dovetails with the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus, in which he exhorts his fellow believers to take on the Armour of God to resist the devil’s schemes. Paul reminds us that we are not in a physical battle, but one that is waged “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12b NIV). “Rise Up” is a call to arms. Paradoxically, instead of wearing a soldier’s armament, the young woman wears a white lace dress, which represents the imputed righteousness bestowed upon her by her Saviour Jesus Christ. Jesus never took up the sword, but laid down his life freely for his bride, the Church.

I wanted to depict racially diverse figures of all ages: a young African-Canadian woman in the foreground, a middle-aged Indonesian lady, and an older Caucasian man atop rock spires in the background. Facing ethnic hostility between Jews and Gentiles in the church of Ephesus, Paul advocated for unity through Christ's reconciliation (Eph. 2:11-22). Today, the Bride of Christ must also fight for unity. As God’s Church from every tribe, nation, and language, we are unified through the powerful Armour of God available to us: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God. We need prophetic imagination fuelled by a biblical worldview in order to resist our society’s false narratives. In the Church we often focus on personal sin, but we must also be aware of the systemic forces of darkness that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6. My painting stands as a metaphor for transcending all that is evil in our present world, such as war, greed, self-absorption, and racism. It expresses the longing for a world set right, where harmony will reign between humans, animals, and the Creator.


Thank you to the models who posed for this painting:
Ashley Paterson
Sherly Jamin
Douglas Tiessen

Special thanks to Douglas Tiessen who built the frame I designed, and to Daryl McMahon who did the antique finish.

How to Purchase this Artwork

"Rise Up" is available for purchase through Josh Tiessen Studio Gallery. To Inquire, please contact:

To watch the making of "Rise Up" see:

Other Goods & Services Available from this Artist

Josh Tiessen Studio Gallery •
-Original Paintings, Limited Edition Giclée prints, Monograph Books, Artist Notecards

Currently represented by Rehs Contemporary Gallery in New York City •
-Original Paintings

Monograph Books Available on Amazon •

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