AANFM LP QMG RCA SAPQ
1933 - 2004
acrylic on canvas
on verso signed and dated 10/1971
36 x 36 in 91.4 x 91.4 cm
Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000
Sold for: $37,250
Collection of the Artist
Collection of Blema and H. Arnold Steinberg, Montreal
Estate of Blema and H. Arnold Steinberg, Montreal
Pierre Théberge, Guido Molinari, National Gallery of Canada, 1976, pages 46, 50 and 54
Michael Snow and Louise Dompierre, The Collected Writings of Michael Snow, 1994, pages 92 - 96
In 1973, Michael Snow, a towering figure in Canadian art, was lip-syncing his pre-recorded opening remarks at the National Gallery of Canada and announced, “One of Canada’s greatest artists, Guido Molinari” - huge praise from one peer to another.
Molinari’s success at the Venice Biennale in 1968 had by then positioned him as the country’s leading abstract artist. For the artist it was a time of renewal, a time to set new challenges. By 1969 Molinari had abandoned vertical bands of colour, preferring instead to pursue a new modular arrangement, though one still based on repeating verticals; however, now each vertical rectangle was also bisected diagonally to create co-equal pairs of different coloured triangles. With this new format Molinari could consolidate his reading of Structuralism to extend beyond the achievements of his striped paintings into new terrain.
Molinari’s mutating colour variations, the constancy of repeating forms and his need for espace dynamique are familiar. This and something central to his oeuvre, the essential dictate that each colour be appreciated independently, also remained. Molinari’s canvases acknowledge the influence every juxtaposed colour exerts on its neighbour. In Structure triangulaire from 1971, this new space of bisected rectangles doubles down on the dynamism of this effect to reduce the gap between viewers and his paint surface even further. Now your proximity to the surface is almost palpable – haptic space of juxtaposed equals, colour and viewer reacting to each other. With all of these paintings the tendency is to read the composition from left to right, or right to left. Either approach produces the same effect. Each colour is simply beside the others, none pushed to the back, none propelled forward. Structure triangulaire is a new form of bi-dimensionality at its flattest and most active.
Pierre Théberge stated: “Between the viewer and the canvas is that virtual space where the impulses of colour rhythms can have free rein. In this space, colour planes, far from being fixed in space (warm colours in the forefront, cold colours in the background), are in constant motion, perpetually ‘coming and going,’ which recently caused the painter to remark that his colours ‘breathed.’ ” Looking closely at Molinari’s triangular structures, Théberge wrote that one sees them “first in a serial enumeration. Once you get to the centre of a painting, the second half is like an echo of the first. … [Then] working your way to the periphery again, as you weld the second half to the first, you realize that the second half has a different identity.”
The establishment of individual identity is at the core of the theorems of Jean Piaget, a pioneer of theories of knowing, whose writings gained a broad audience in the 1960s. Molinari was a reader of Piaget, and what is particularly useful when thinking about Structure triangulaire is Piaget’s commentary on the human tendency to overestimate acute angles and underestimate obtuse angles. This, when combined with diagonal distortions of perception plus the general visual inability to neither keep parallel lines parallel nor estimate their length with accuracy, was used to great advantage by Molinari throughout the 1970s. His tendency was to stretch the interaction amongst multiple perceptual distortions to create a colour / space of troughs and ridges, all seemingly in constant dynamic opposition. Molinari’s shallow space of troughs and ridges is populated with a completely original intuitive use of colour, each colour pair separated by a destabilizing diagonal. His introduction of the diagonal allows him to once again redefine colour as a form of energy. As the artist stated, “In using chromatic energy as a structural element in this new spatiality, I was intending to create an art more expressive than anything that had gone before.”
We thank Gary Dufour, adjunct associate professor at the University of Western Australia, for contributing the above essay. Dufour was the curator of the exhibition Guido Molinari, 1951 - 1961: The Black and White Paintings, shown at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Windsor and the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1989 - 1990.
Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000
All prices are in Canadian Dollars
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