The Peel Art Gallery
Come for the paintings, stay for the drawings
( Jan - May 2019 )
In Brampton, Ontario where Ron Bloore was born and raised the Peel Art Gallery put on a real museum show.
“Ronald Bloore: Black and White” curated by Darrin Martens, was a concentrated delving into the artist's ideas about composition as reflected in one particular series of his works. And there was more:
1982, Painting, oil on masonite, 109 x 244 cm, Peel Art Gallery Collection
(Click the image to see it VERY large and here to see more of the show.)
In another space at the gallery and concurrent with the Bloore solo exhibition, the “Selections from the Vault,” series show titled “Abstraction in Canada” featured three major white-on-white Bloore paintings including the four by eight foot work from 1982 shown above. Just as a side note: in 2006 the artist himself donated a work from the same series of paintings to the National Capital Commission in Ottawa. It can be seen here on the site in the Eighties pages. Also hanging were two four-by-four square works from 1982 and 1992. This exhibition ran from February 7th to May 5th.
Ronald Bloore: Black and White
24 of the exhibition’s 31 Sumi ink works
“Ronald Bloore: Black and White” was up from January 31st to May 26th and there were three events on three Sunday afternoons.
On February 10th the curator Darrin Martens gave a talk on Bloore's approach to compositional space. And on February 24th there was the “opening reception” for the two winter shows alongside a rather elaborate opening celebration of the North to Freedom photography show in the Peel Museum next door.
April 7th brought guest speaker Timothy Long, Head Curator of the Mackenzie Gallery of Regina to give a talk, “Ron Bloore and the Art of Provocation” which focused mainly on Bloore's efforts and adventures as a figure in the art world, particularly as Director of the Mackenzie Gallery from 1958 to ’66.
Bloore always felt, and declared, that to be provocative was an essential requirement of art. It could be humourous and it could be pleasing, but it should also be ambiguous and also disturbing. It must always provoke the viewer to question himself. It must take him aback to provoke pushing forward, to promote a desire to understand just what progress might be.
As the director of the Mackenzie Gallery Bloore saw it as his job to be provocative for the sake of the advancement of culture. He later approached the tasks of public speaker, critic and commentator on art the same way. And as an instructor and professor the mission and the method were again the same. Even chatting over a drink, or seated at a pleasant dinner Bloore’s often very ambiguous provocations and occasionally disturbing humour were well known. Snapshots of his many modes are here.
1981, Drawing, March 27, Sumi ink on Arches paper, 28 x 38 cm, Peel Art Gallery Collection
(Click to look closer)
A recent commercial show at the Wallace Galleries in Calgary featured three black sumis and two are still there. They can be seen up close here. Our page devoted to black works is here.
Canadian Art History
on the block at Heffel
1960 is now a world, or two, away. In 1960, Regina Saskatchewan was, as in the title of Mark Wihak's film about the Regina Five, “A World Away.” And in Regina from 1958 to 1966 Ron Bloore was a world away.
1960, Painting, August, oil on masonite, 122 x 122 cm
Click to look close
In 1962 Bloore went for two years on a Canada Arts Council Fellowship Grant many, vast worlds away. He went to Byzantium and to Greece and on to Egypt and to the mosques of Istambul. He then proceeded to destroy almost every artwork he had done that he could get his hands on, except the few that had been on the track which he now knew was the one to pursue.
This work, perhaps more clearly than any other, contains many of the essential, now famous, elements of that post-elimination track. This is why Bloore wrote NFS (Not For Sale) on the back of the painting when it showed in museums in the mid-seventies. But it sold this month in Toronto.
The trip to Greece is a story yet to be taken up directly by the author of this site but it is briefly told by Terrence Heath in his Not Without Design catalog essay, which is on the site,
There is a gallery of a selection of Bloore's works from the early sixties on the site
Five More Works Go West
Two Baby Bloores
And yes, one of them is from the sixties.
The Christmas season is a time to confirm that our dealer, the Wallace Galleries' has some smaller, perhaps giftable artworks. With this in mind and in celebration of our very successful last exhibition in Calgary, featured on the site here, we have sent out a small early painting and released two more Baby Bloores into the wide world. Two major works went out as well to replenish stock:
1969, No.1 Feb - May, oil on masonite, 34 x 50 cm
Click to look close
The work is shown on this site among others of its period in the Late Sixties Gallery here.
The estate is aware of four maquettes this size from this series but only a single example of a full size one. A nice photo opportunity of that large work came in 2002 at the Ontario Provincial Legislature.
Above, Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman speaking at a tribute to the visual artists of Ontario in the Legislature building in Toronto.
1999, No.4 June 23 - July 8, oil on masonite, 122 x 122 cm
Click to look close
This work is shown on the site among others of its period in the Nineties Gallery here.
The last public appearance this work made was in 2009 at the Tribute to Ron Bloore at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Above at the left, Guy Metraux, fellow York Professor Emeritus and close friend of Ron's attends his introduction in the great hall of the ROM.
2000, No.18 March 17, oil on masonite, 91 x 91 cm
Click to look close
This work is shown on this site among others of its period in the 2000-2003 Gallery here.
Both of the “New Series” paintings, the 4-by-4 and the 3-by-3, hung in the Moore Gallery show “Bloore, Bluer; The Blue Series and a Newer Series” in 2000. At the time most of the lines and fields which are now various colours were just beginning to stray from pristine whiteness.
1982, untitled, oil on masonite, 13 x 24 cm
Click to look close
One job of the small maquettes was to let different paints and different paint methods jostle in close quarters. Then slowly, kept out of the light for a number of months, the various matte and glossy whites would ripen into creams, greys, golds and yes even whites.
Similar works of all sizes can be seen in the Eighties Gallery here.
1985, untitled, oil on masonite, 14 x 23 cm
Click to look close
In 1985 Bloore broke the “fourth wall”, as they say in the theatre world, with multi-panel works that visibly approached the viewer. He made many many maquettes. By becoming three dimensional the “Monumental Series” became almost literally architectural.
Many similar small works and one full size monumental piece can be seen in the Eighties Gallery here.
an Infant of the Spring
at Consignors Auctions
“When I lived in Paris you could buy a Monet for what would be about $600. Of course, I didn't have even that in those days and it is not my kind of stuff anyway. But I knew they were bloody good paintings.” - R.L.Bloore
1972 Baby Bloore at Consignors' March 14th Online Auction
The Estate stopped selling it's few remaining 5 by 7 inch oil sketches in 2012. The last one sold for $3700. And we were immediately asked for another. They do have a strong and curious appeal. How in the world then does this very dirty and neglected little treasure find itself in an online auction like this?
On the back the paints are noted by Bloore for reference, TQDW, Talens Quick Drying White oil paint over CIL enamel primer. It is dated 1971/72 indicating his relative devaluing of time and dates. It may have his name, last name, on the back under the frame backing but maybe not. He insisted that its value should derive solely from the obvious beauty of what is on the front, independant of any potential associations, reputations, institutions.
But speaking of associations, reputations and institutions, here is what Kenneth Saltmarche, then Director of the Art Gallery of Windsor, wrote in 1974 in his preface to the catalogue of the exhibition, Ron Bloore: Sixteen Years about the front of his:
“In my house, above a telephone desk, hang two small white panel paintings by Ron Bloore. They were a gift of the artist to my wife a few years ago. So, while I have been engaged in conversations with the gas company, or the bill collector, my eyes have wandered over these tiny pictures, drawing both knowledge and nourishment from them.
“They have helped ease the tedium of the practical matters of daily communication, leavened the day to day business conducted in that place, and led me gradually into a wonderful other world of limitless space and endless time.
“Through such daily contact, I have come to know - really know - the art of R. L. Bloore. Impossible for me to verbalize, its reality and poetry is nonetheless actual. Its impact is of now and of then. Is of Aegean sunlight warming and defining some ancient wall; is of jetstream in a clear sky.”
at the Wallace Galleries
October 12 to the 25th the Wallace Galleries in Calgary AB took an interesting approach to a show, an examination of the works of five of their painters who interacted in one way or another with a single art critic. And the show included Ron Bloore.
Ron Bloore At Emma Lake, 1959
Clement Greenberg was, like many an art critic, a failed painter. He was a failed landscape painter. And like some critics, he developed his own theory of art which, if it really needs to be said, was intellectually stillborn but became extremely influential nonetheless. That influence reached a turning point around 1962.
1958 to 1962 were tumultuous years in Regina and this was in no small part due to the efforts - successful efforts - of Ron Bloore to nurture a proper flowering of indigenous art production there. In ‘62 he took a two year sabbatical to Greece and Egypt. During his absence Greenberg came to Saskatchewan and Canadian art history took a dramatic turn with Emma Lake as the pivot point.
It is a story yet to be taken up directly by the author of this site but it is told by Terrence Heath
here, and told by Bloore in his interview with Joan Murray here and it is commented upon here.
At Emma Lake, Jack Shadbolt, Roy Kiyooka, Ken Lochhead, Doug Morton
and Ron Bloore try to warm their hands at a fire that is not burning.
Happy 30th Anninversary to
the Wallace Galleries!
The Wallace Galleries in Calgary AB celebrated their 30th anniversary this year with an exhibition from Sept. 14 to Oct. 11 featuring all of their significant stable of artists. Fresh new works were the order of the day, and some very old Bloores can appear fresh and new, so we looked for a 30 year old work.
July 9 1987, Oil on Masonite, 24 x 36"
Click to see larger
And there is one. The estate has only one painting from 1987. And it is stunning and unique. Moreover, the estate has records of just two paintings being done by Bloore that year, in July. They stand like markers between the paintings that went before this transitional year and all the later works. They integrate, in paint, for the first time the dramatic spatial effects Bloore developed in the ink works of ’83 to ’86.
December 15 1984, Ink on Arches paper, 22 x 30" at Wallace Galleries
The other work, finished two days earlier, and now in a private collection, took a more two dimensional approach to the ink works’ compositional style.
July 7 1987, Oil on Masonite, 24 x 30", Private Collection
It’s obvious success seems to have spurred Bloore on to the ink works’ richer spatial effects like evoking a deep and complex background. The ink work examples shown here are currently in the Wallace Gallery stock.
August 8 1983, Ink on Arches paper, 22 x 30" at Wallace Galleries
In celebration of the anniversary and also in response to the outstanding success of last year’s Wallace Gallery exhibition
Ronald Bloore: Untitled
, two other estate paintings accompanied the 1987 work to Calgary. This 2003 piece is one of the last White-on-White paintings and even includes a small window onto the brown world of the works to come.
July 7 2003, Oil on Masonite, 48 x 32"
Click to see larger
And finally, and long overdue, the Wallace Gallery now has available one of the last series of Bloore's long career. A major work which was featured in the
Ronald Bloore: Fragments of Infinity
travelling exhibition put on by the Mackenzie Art Gallery of Regina.
Yellow Series #7, July 29 2006, Oil on Masonite, 48 x 48"
Yellow Series #7 in the
Going... Going... Going... Nowhere!
Painting #9, 1964-5, Oil on Masonite, 24 x 36"
Click to see larger
So a familiar piece turned up in Heffel’s March 2017 on line auction. And sadly, it received no bids. It is a great piece of history, radically unique even to this day and a beautiful old painting. But still, no bids.
This White Line Painting of 1965 was first displayed back in the last century by none other than Dorothy Cameron.
It is called number 9 and it appears ninth in a column of the Exhibition Catalogue of the show that Cameron traveled to the New Brunswick Museum and the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1965. Interestingly, the exhibition hung in a commercial gallery in Toronto and in public galleries in the other two cities.
Also on that list is a painting called
which was auctioned in 2006. And how long ago even that seems now! That painting was given an estimate of $2,000-2,500 back then but it sold to a certain Mr. Thomson, who knows a deal when he sees one, for over $55,000. That story, and an image of the painting is
Here, above and below are some of the 2 foot by 2 foot paintings as they hung in the Dorothy Cameron Gallery in Toronto.
There’s a couple more familiar squares here too: the two grids. One sold badly at auction a while back for only $10,000 and the other is shown below selling a couple of years later at the Moore Gallery in 2011 for $40,000. And those are just 2-by-2’s while this current piece is a 2-by-3. The Wallace Galleries in Calgary just sold (in 2016) a 1960 2-by-4 for $71,000.
But these are the vicissitudes of the auction market. Is it a mug's game, as some say? We must say, no. Is life itself a mug's game? We must say, no. What does our art say about that? It must say, no.