Specializing in Canadian and International Historical Art
Important International Early 19th and 20th Century Art
As well featuring Old Master Art Works
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Featured Artist: Thomas Ackermann
Thomas Ackermann developed a very personal way of applying materials onto the canvas, in spirit, much like Jackson Pollock or Yves Klein for their audacious experiments with new techniques, dripping, using living brushes or pouring directly onto canvas. Ackermann’s current new works use a 600 year old medium (oil paint) and re-invented (altered) it to suit his unique process. He can apply the process creating several unique works from one image, repeating the image in reverse, comparable in a way to Andy Warhol’s use of silk screens. Ackermann’s paint surfaces are either highly reflective (without topical varnishes) or extremely rough and textured. A brush has not touched the final surface. Yet when examined closely the oil paint looks as if applied by brush comparable to brush strokes on a Picasso painting.
To Ackermann, questions of the soul are of prime importance, and to explore these questions are the most significant thing we can do. There is in his paintings nothing tentative or hesitant about getting on with that exploration. Fearless and eager explorer. Joyful and enthusiastic discoverer. His paintings lead us on to extra-terrestrial territory, to a higher elevation of thought.
Christopher Pratt was born December 9, 1935 in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Christopher Pratt first started painting watercolours in 1952. In 1953 he attended Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick as a student in pre-medicine. At Mount Allison he quickly became interested in Fine Arts, especially painting. He was encouraged to paint by Lawren P. Harris and Alex Colville. From 1957-1959 Pratt studied at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. During the summers, he returned to Newfoundland to work as a construction surveyor at the American Naval Base at Argentia. The training he received in precise measuring was applied to his paintings. In 1959 Pratt returned to Mount Allison University to complete in 1961 a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. During this period he began to make silkscreen prints.
In 1961, Pratt accepted the position of curator at the newly opened Memorial University Art Gallery in St. John’s. He remained at the gallery for two and a half years before deciding to concentrate on his painting full-time, moving his family to Salmonier, Newfoundland.
Pratt was the subject of a major touring retrospective organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1985, a touring print retrospective and catalogue raisonné, The Prints of Christopher Pratt: 1958-1991 in 1992, a major traveling exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Canada in 2005, and a ten-year retrospective of his work at The Rooms in 2015. His work is found in many public collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, The Rooms, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Pratt has served on many committees and councils, including the Federal government’s Stamp Design Advisory Committee (1972–1975) and the Board of the Canada Council for the Arts (1975–1981). In 1980, Pratt designed the Provincial Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador. He is a recipient of several honorary doctorates and the Order of Canada.
Richard Stipl was born 1968, Sternberk, Czech Republic. He lives and works in Prague.
Working initially as a painter, Stipl turned to making sculpture. Using himself as a model, Richard focuses exhaustively on the indefinite nature and moment-to-moment paradoxes inherent in the act of continuously recreating oneself throughout the course of a lifetime.
Characteristically, Stipl’s paintings and sculptural works alike force us to reconsider the role of boundaries and consequent categories of choice that comprise contemporary attitudes and approaches to art-making and art-consumption. Stipl has exhibited worldwide and is included in many important public and private collections. Over the past several years, his work has captured extensive media and critical attention wherever he has exhibited.
Ron Martin was born in London, Ontario 28 April 1943. Ron Martin studied at H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, Ontario. Then began working in a studio shared with Murrary Favro in 1964, and had his first solo exhibition in Jack Pollock’s gallery in Toronto in 1965. Martin admired Jackson Pollock, Milton Resnick and other Abstract Expressionists, and his interest quickly turned to abstraction.
Martin has consistently worked in series, such as the monochromatic “Bright Red Paintings” of 1972 and the subsequent “Black Paintings,” with which he was engaged from 1974 to 1981. In these series he employed a wide range of techniques: pouring, brushing, scraping, and using his bare hands, and consistently worked on the floor or other flat surfaces. The monochromatic paintings began as vigorously gestural works and then evolved into thin surfaces, from which much of the paint had been scraped away, and ultimately to highly textured accumulations of dense, encrusted acrylic. The “Black Paintings” represented Canada (along with Henry Saxe’s sculptures) at the Venice Biennale in 1978.
Throughout his career, Martin has rigorously moved on from each series to other quite different ones. The “Black Paintings” were followed by much sparer grid works, the “Geometric Paintings” (1981-85), and then by the more painterly “Black, White and Grey Paintings.” In the 1990s he created a number of series based on a configuration of circles, using oil paint squeezed directly from the tube.
Martin often set arbitrary constraints on his process, eg, limiting a painting to one gallon of paint, two gallons or twenty gallons. Or he might set a time limit to the production of each work. These procedures suggest an affinity with conceptual art, but Martin also views them, and other aspects of his art making, as in keeping with Leonardo’s advice to the artist to “look at certain walls stained with damp or at stones of uneven colour” so that “the spirit [will be] quickened to new inventions.” Martin therefore places Leonardo in a line of thought leading to the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, and on the basis of their work he takes it for granted that “the creative process is an unconscious” one that functions best when the artist is focused on the sheer materiality of painting. In 2012 Ron Martin was awarded a Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts.
Kris Knight was born in 1980 in Windsor, Ontario. He is a Canadian painter whose work examines performance in relation to the construction, portrayal and boundaries of sexual and asexual identities. Drawing from personal histories of rural escapism through imagination, Knight paints disenchanted characters that are lost between youth and adulthood; they hide their secrets, but desperately long to let them go. His mythical and ambiguous portraits are a synthesis of fantasy and real-world memory; they tiptoe between the dichotomies of pretty and menace, hunter and hunted, innocence and the erotic.
Within their apparent ambiguity, Knight’s sensitive paintings and portraits evoke a series of shifting emotions, themes and experiences – from loneliness, competiveness, numbness, loss, and love, to the need to seek attention, the need to put on airs and perform, the need to cope and the need for privacy. Some works are dark and melancholic; others are tinged with notes of humor and sensuality, sweetness, elegance and light.
Throughout Knight’s professional practice, he has created thematic bodies of work that reference historical notions of regality, mysticism, romanticism and symbolism. He often skews these concepts with contemporary interests in androgyny, fashion, psychotropic alterations and the post-modern gaze. Knight’s lustrous classical cum illustrative figurative paintings, stride between a contradicting palette of sensual primaries and ghostly pastels, reflecting his adoration for 18th Century French portraiture and Polaroid film.