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LOT 013

Guido Molinari
1933 - 2004

Sérielle ocre-brun
acrylic on canvas
on verso signed twice, titled on the gallery labels, dated 1967 and inscribed "G.M.-T-1967-03" and "Mutation #12"
84 x 67 in 213.4 x 170.2 cm

Estimate: $200,000 - $300,000

Sold for: $313,250

Preview at: Heffel North Vancouver Facility – by appointment only

Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto
Estate of the Artist
Galerie de Bellefeuille, Montreal
Private Collection, Montreal

Ulysse Comtois / Guido Molinari: XXXIV International Biennial Exhibition of Art, Venice, National Gallery of Canada, 1968, artist’s statement and essay by Pierre Théberge, pages 15 and 18

“A synthesis of chromatic mutations. The entire surface transformed: the bands vibrate, undulate, and emerge from the surface. They rise and fall in turn, and strain towards the sides of the canvas. In short these quasi-simultaneous mutations destroy the initial geometry, and the spectator discovers a new space, situated between the eye and the surface perceived.”

—Pierre Théberge, describing Guido Molinari’s paintings in the 1968 XXXIV Venice Biennale

Guido Molinari’s Sérielle ocre-brun from 1967 is an outstanding example of just these colour harmonies, seemingly in constant motion, that Pierre Théberge identifies as the hallmark of the artist’s work. Molinari’s paintings from 1967 are on a new, enlarged scale, the product of recognition, circumstance, opportunity and ambition. He had a third solo exhibition in New York, received reviews in Arts Magazine and ARTnews, and recent acquisitions of his work were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In addition, the removal of a wall in his studio doubled its size while he was preparing paintings for the Venice Biennale the following year. Considering that his paintings were included in 18 group exhibitions, it is easy to say that 1967 was a year of intense activity and remarkable achievement for Molinari, all underscored by the growing international reputation of his innovative striped canvases.

Like all of Molinari’s paintings from 1967, Sérielle ocre-brun is based on a simplified compositional strategy of vertical bands of colour, all of equal width, spread across a completely flat picture plane. Paradoxically, this simplicity was liberating for Molinari, particularly for what he called a colour / space of vibrating dynamic harmonies. Each optical variation emanates from the conjunction of abutting stripes of intensely saturated hues, each stripe becoming just one of many amongst its neighbours; the resulting mutations in colour and position are a product of their correlational visual interdependence.

Sérielle ocre-brun is slightly taller than it is wide, with two identical sequential groupings of seven narrow repeating bands of colour. This emphasis on verticality plays an important role in Molinari’s compositions. As he said, “Too spread out and then the quality of the stripes changes; they would be really large rectangles and I would not like that too much. I like the concept of verticality and I want the vectorial quality of the stripes in the painting to be stressed. I also like the viewer to see the end-beginning all at once.” Here Molinari is describing the basic measured units, the “stanzas,” if you will, from which Sérielle ocre-brun is constructed. The stanzas used in each painting can vary in number, width, order and obviously colour, but without compromise each is juxtaposed to its twin on the opposing side of the canvas just across a central division.

His strategy of repeating colour stanzas is what sets the picture plane in motion visually, crucially without resorting to any form of figure / ground, something Molinari saw as a backwards step. Instead the rhythmic sequences of repeating hues, notwithstanding the individual intensity and saturation of each, seem to equivocate in colour and position, a response to the movements of individual spectators and to the influence of adjoining colours.

The “end-beginning” is equally important for Molinari - he seems to invite spectators to scan the pictorial area in a single horizontal sweep, left to right, or in reverse. The self-identity of each individual stripe is paramount and never sacrificed, each colour unique, pristine and applied with precision. Every spectator’s perception is enumerated through the constantly changing characteristics of each coloured stripe in Molinari’s ever renewing colour / space.

We thank Gary Dufour, adjunct associate professor, University of Western Australia, for contributing the above essay. Dufour curated the exhibition Guido Molinari, 1951 – 1961: The Black and White Paintings, shown at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Windsor and Art Gallery of Ontario in 1989 – 1990.

Estimate: $200,000 - $300,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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