Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ron Stonier Exhibition

The current exhibition of the late Ron Stonier's work at the Trench Gallery in Vancouver was an opportunity to view some rarely seen works by a master painter.

In 1965 I took a summer painting session at the old Vancouver School of Art.
Ron was the teacher and quickly gave me exposure to the visceral realities of paint.

That is what Stonier did so well and he knew how to convey this knowledge without being pedantic. He was a natural artist.

Apart from exploring the nature of the materials he used, Ron Stonier possessed an acutely tuned colour sense that Matisse would have appreciated. His use of colour was also deeply rooted in Abstract Expressionism and in the influence of Hans Hoffman, whose push-pull theory continued Cezanne's idea of conveying space through the use of advancing and receding colours.

In fact there is also a bit of the School of Paris in Stonier's oeuvre, in works like Cardboard-12 from 1963 (below.

This is an art of its time yet it stands up very well in the light of today. Its freshness is only enhanced by being out of sight for so many decades. The hard edge paintings of the 60's are another example of being in tune with the times but not letting style dictate content. Colour is still his forte in these works which glow with an almost neon intensity.

His abstractions also include tachist works with their heavy impasto and abstract expressionist series with gestural brushwork, while in his wonderful line drawings we see that the figure is never far from the surface in his work. The direct and spontaneous lines in the drawings bring us close to the realm of the surreal, which has always had a figurative basis. Stonier was not confined by any one style and ranged freely among the tendencies of Modern Art.

We so rarely get to see first rate abstract painting like this in Vancouver that any students in the system today who want to buck the academic trends in 'contemporary art' and see what good painting is all about, should go and see this exhibition.

Ron Stonier at the Trench Gallery,
148 Alexander St. Vancouver, BC.