Lot Sale Results

Ronald Albert Martin

Ronald Albert Martin
November 2016 - 5th Session Online auction

Lot # 315

Ronald Albert Martin
1943 - Canadian

Guelph Trip - One & Two #17
acrylic on canvas
on verso signed, titled and dated March 1975
84 x 66 in  213.3 x 167.6cm

Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto

Phillip Fry, Ron Martin: In Regard to the Black Paintings (Pretext and text),” Parachute, no. 2, January - March 1976, reproduced page 19 (rotated 90º clockwise)
Walter Klepac et al., Ron Martin: 1971 - 1981, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1989, page 18
Collector’s Choice 2014, Miriam Shiell Fine Art, 2014, unpaginated

Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Ron Martin, Toronto, June 7 - 26, 1975

Ron Martin was barely 25 years old in 1968 when The Heart of London, a survey exhibition of London, Ontario’s contemporary art scene, exposed him to a national audience when it toured from Charlottetown to Victoria. Martin already had works in the collections of the London Public Library and Art Gallery (now Museum London), the National Gallery of Canada, the McIntosh Gallery (London, Ontario), and was beginning to produce works that engaged his oeuvre-defining questions of the what, when and how of making a painting.

Martin’s art developed in leaps and bounds as attention grew. From the Conclusion and Transfer paintings (1967 - 1968) shown in The Heart of London through his most recent works exhibited in 2014, Martin produced series that structured his ambition to create a new work of art. They are discrete bodies that are neither serial, per se, nor repetitive. Their originality and lack of obvious cognates befuddle viewers, because his work confounds discussion in terms of art that has already been made, described and understood.

The earliest Black Paintings were done in 1973 after Martin concluded his One Colour paintings (1971 - 1973) and its well-known subset the Bright Red Paintings (1972). They were first exhibited at Toronto’s Carmen Lamanna Gallery in June 1975, and defined new ground in Canadian abstract painting when artists were rejecting emphasis on the flatness of the picture plane, the central image and formalist preoccupation with composition in favour of paintings developed through procedural choice. Martin was among the most rigorous members of this leading edge. By using a determined colour, a determined amount of paint, a support of determined size, a determined orientation for the painting, and a determined presentation for the finished painting (unframed, and to be hung four to six inches from the floor), he sought to make works free from style.

The June 1975 Carmen Lamanna exhibition was well received by Gary Michael Dault in his review for The Toronto Star. In it, he calls Martin one of Canada’s most important painters, and he considered the exhibition Martin’s most important to date - applauding the paintings for their audacity and for Martin’s willingness to forego complacency in favour of individual artistic development. Along with Guelph Trip – One & Two #17 that was purchased at the time by the consignor, the Lamanna exhibition had closely related paintings that were acquired by the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council Art Bank and the National Gallery of Canada.

Martin made arcs of paint with his hands by moving seven gallons of Mars Black paint across the canvas while it was on the floor . The incidental effects, suggesting a bas-relief’s illusionistic depth, the raw expression associated with Abstract Expressionism, or specific cultural associations with black, are beside the point. Although they are there, it is most important to approach Guelph Trip – One & Two #17 as a painting to be looked at. Martin is interested in making art that allows the viewer to experience what they are as individuals during the process of looking deeply at his paintings. Because he believes art speaks to individuals, his self-imposed limits of size, colour, volume of paint, technique and presentation enable him to make paintings that confound those who ask, “what does it mean?” Hanging unframed, with the paint wrapping around the edges left visible, the painting is about as wide as the artist’s outstretched arms, as high as his raised arms and hung so low on the wall it becomes a physical presence in its space. Standing before it, the viewer is confronted by another body, offering a chance for deeper contemplation and understanding.

We thank Gregory Humeniuk, independent art historian and author of the forthcoming online art book on Ron Martin to be published by the Art Canada Institute, for contributing the above essay.

Estimate: $25,000 ~ $35,000 CAD

Sold For: $35,400.00 CAD (including buyer's premium)

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