Tuesday, August 3, 2010

~~~~Fine Art Wednesday~~~RON MARTIN~~~

Baroque Black: Twenty-five Imperial Gallons
©Ron Martin
Date made: 1976
Materials: acrylic on canvas, mounted on wood panel
Measurements: 72 x 54 in.; 183 x 137 cm
Collection: Mailhot, Montreal

Myself with Top, Miss McPhee
©Ron Martin

Click on the image to view a larger version of the work.

Date made: 1964
Materials: oil on plywood
Measurements: 48 x 48 in.; 122 x 122 cm

Ron Martin is a friend of mine and one of my favourite Canadian artists. He was a local artist in London Ontario for a number of years and has recently travelled to Texas and I believe he may be back in Canada (hopefully!).
Since I was an art student, I use to frequent the local art galleries. I believe during an opening I met Ron and he invited me to his atelier (studio).
Often we use to have coffee together and scene and was helpful during my many questions I had about art in general. Being a painter is not an easy life, Ron would always be on the phone during the day. At night he'd paint most of the night. Although Ron did not want me to write a thesis on his art (why I do not know), I did in 3rd year anyway, in regards to his Black Paintings. Luckily I got an amazing mark for my Contemporary Canadian Art History class at Western by Professor William Hart. The Black Paintings photocopied incredibly well. Remember this was the early 1980's. Needless to say, I still have the essay to reprint here eventually.
Remembering the time Ron Martin took me to Toronto to see his opening at the Gallery there, was it Leo Castelli's or AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario)? It was his huge black paintings with the huge, thick black paint on huge canvas.
The paintings were so thick and heavy I had wondered how he hung them and if the walls would collapse under their weight. To be honest, I was in total awe of Ron and his work. I held Ron in high esteem.
When I did visit Ron in his artist studio near Talbot Street, I was amazed to see exactly how professional artists live and work. Ron lived alone in his studio and often worked long into the night on his paintings. The time I visited him he was working on the most amazing palette value paintings, and completely concentrated on the exacting art. His quality of the painted surface was impeccable; he reminded me of a surgeon; how precise!
The near impossible task of matching exacting values of various colours always amazed me as I remembered the colour wheel and colour value charts we had to make in first year art studio. Ron was master at this game and he just knew instinctively through years of practice the exacting amount of each colour. (tone is a colours white value and tint is a colour's black value). Tone was always more appreciated at the Art Studio at Western I remember. We were not encourage to use non-colour values or colours that were "muddied". Fresh colours did appear a vibrant part of creating "tres beaux arts".
Ron did paint in an Old Cigar factory in the early sixties with Greg Curnoe, Murray Favro and others on King Street. I remember the stories told to me by one of the artists who shared a studio in the building during the 60's (you know who you are). It was a pretty crazy place to be, and at times, I imagine, a bit wild being an artist's coop in the sixties, are you kidding? Wild would be an understatement. I heard someone had been repairing his Knucklehead Harley in the studio next to the old Coke machine when Pie In The Sky parties were the rule rather than the exception.
Next week I will feature the London Ontario artist Greg Curnoe who I had the privledge of knowing albeit briefly, also an amazing talent.
Hoping to also discuss my photography professor George LeGrady who is now in Southern California! Must be nice George!
Ron Martin did encourage me to meet other artists and musicians like saxophonist Eric Stach. Eric did go to L.A. but was not that impressed with the scene there. Maybe it has changed again, but the 80's was called the "Yuppie" generation (Young Upperwardly Mobile) which did not have the same feel as the Hippie generation of the 60's. With the new age, yoga movement I have to wonder if that feeling of togetherness is coming back? One always has this dream, especially if altruistic and a dreamer, as most artists usually are, most definitely are, dreamers. Today artists have to be dreamers practitions to be successful. There is a lot of trying to find a new niche within a stylist perimeter. Original and fitting into a studio niche. I still am in awe of how it happens, but talent always does promote itself, creativity being a vibrant life force. Ron Martin is definitely a tour de force on the Contemporary Art scene and I hope to purchase a painting or two in the future should I win the lottery or luck should deal me a lucky hand! "You just know when you are in the presence of art".jj

Ron Martin

Ron Martin was born in London, Ontario, in 1943. He attended Beal Tech between 1960 and 1964, emerging, as his contemporary Greg Curnoe later remarked, 'at a moment of high energy, moving into a community where the pressure was on to rent a downtown studio and do original, serious things.' Martin shared his first studio with fellow Beal Tech graduate, Murray Favro, for two years. Curnoe, slightly older, was a marked influence, for his own work in painting and collage, and through his interest in and promotion of artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters. His first solo show, of 'Pop Collages', was mounted at Toronto's Pollock Gallery in February of 1966. As Dennis Reid has written in his Concise History of Canadian Painting (2nd ed. 1988): 'The philosophical and theoretical nature of Martin's approach to art is apparent as early as 1967 when he began working on a series of pieces he called Conclusions and Transfers. In response to a remark of Marcel Duchamp's about the "gap" in representational painting between the subject (the thing painted) and the object (the painting itself), Martin sought to bridge this by making an abstract painting (always in homage to an artist he admired), creating an exact copy, and hanging the two together as a single work. The series continued through 1969, stimulating experiments in watercolour that began to reveal to him that the reality of a painting resided entirely in its material nature. Seeking to investigate that nature more closely, he developed a conceptual system of painting � dividing a canvas of fixed dimensions (all but one are 213.4 x 152.4 cm.) into one-inch squares, and filling each with three simple strokes of acrylic paint in the shape of an N, alternating the direction of the strokes between horizontal and vertical (N Z N), and choosing the colour of each stroke from eight basic hues (the spectrum and brown and black), according to a predetermined pattern. The "meaning" of these World Paintings, as he called them, resides in the viewer's experience of the perceptual phenomena they display. Each is a highly individualistic shimmer of optically blended colour that relaxes and contracts, shifts and ripples as we attempt to isolate parts or absorb larger areas.' Canadian Art Bibliography

Ron Martin
6 references found.
[Click on "View Text" to read full texts housed in the Art Writing Section]

Sort By Author / Sort By Date
Martin, Ron. "Bob Fones at 20/20." 20 Cents Magazine 3.1-2 (1969)
Fones, Robert. "Ron Martin at the Carmen Lamanna Gallery." Proof Only 1.4.February (1974)
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Fones, Robert. "Ron Martin at Carmen Lamanna Gallery." Proof Only 1.4.February (1974)
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Campbell, James D. "Object Relations: On Ron Martin's Recent Colour Paintings." C Magazine 27.Fall (1990)
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"Transformation in the Paintings and Objects of Ron Martin, 1991-1992." Toronto, 1993
Ron Martin: Two Essays on Art and Knowledge
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Lebredt, Gordon. "Forcing Pleasure (and the excess of vision): mourning ‘place’—Ron Martin’s All in Ones."
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Ron Martin


1960–64 Commercial and fine art at H.B. Beal Secondary High School,


1993 Vintage Modernist Works on Paper: Jean-Marie Delavalle, Murray Favro, Richard Gorman,
Tom Hodgson, Ray Mead, Ron Martin, Kasuo Nakamura, Christopher Cutts Gallery Toronto, Ont.


1993 An Exhibition of the Original Members of Forest City Gallery, Forest City Gallery, London, Ont.
1993 C Magazine Silent Auction, C Magazine, Toronto, Ont.
1994 Monochrome. Exhibiting Artists: Delavalle, Martin, and Tousignant Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Ont.
1995 Milieu, Of The Order Of Presentation, Curated by Gordon Lebredt, S.L. Simpson Gallery, Main Gallery, Toronto, Ont.
1995 How Red Works, Group Show, Curated by Ihor Holubizky,Hamilton Art Gallery, Hamilton, Ont.
1996 Inaugural exhibition, gallery artists, Christopher Cutts GalleryToronto, Ont.
1997 Gallery Artists, Christopher Cutts Gallery, North/South Galleries, Toronto, Ont.
1997 Gallery Artists, Moore Gallery Limited, Toronto, Ont.
1997 Ten Years of Collecting, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Sask. Part 1, May 23 – August 17, 1997.
Part II, July 9 – September 1, 1997
1997-98 Repeated Gesture, Permanent Collection Installation, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.
1998 Bealart 80 Years of Experiment 1912-1992, London Regional Art & Historical Museums, London, Ont.
1998-99 Seven, Art Forum Berlin. Representing: Claus Carsten, Murray Favro, Cornelius Heesters Ron Martin, Kasuo Nakamara,
Becky Singleton, Ed Zelnack. Berlin, Germany. Christopher Cutts Gallery.
1998 The Texture of a Collection, Selections from the Permanent Collection. Oakville galleries, Centennial Gallery Oakville, Ont.
1998-99 Weal thought, two part exhibition. Curated by Grant Arnold, and Bruce Grenville.Vancouver Art Gallery Vancouver, B.C.
1999 Re-imagining Modernism, Works from the Permanent Collection, Curated by John Hartman. Maclaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ont.
1999 Art in Bloom, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Sask.
1999 Nature Rearranged. 150 years of Still-life at the National Gallery of Canada traveling exhibition,
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ont.
2000 Art Of Our Century, Part Ii, Modern Art At Millennium’s End Appleton Museum of At. Oscal, Florida.
2001 Pleasures Of Sight. States OF BEING. Radical Abstract Painting Since 1990.
Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee, Florida.



1983 Established painting and sculpture studio in Toronto, Ont.
1964 Established painting and sculpture studio in London, Ont., with Murray Favro


1992- Christopher Cutts, Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto, Ont.
1992- Collection of Ron Moore, Moore Gallery Ltd., Toronto, Ont.
1992- Carmen Lamanna Gallery (Estate), Toronto, Ont.
1965-66 Jack Pollock, Jack Pollock Gallery,
1965-66 Carmen Lamanna, Carmen Lamanna Gallery, 1971-1991

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  1. Oh right Ed Zelnack, my sculpture prof! This will be good! Oh yes!

  2. nice. i like the smooth lines and colors...