Bright Red #9

Ron Martin
  • Date: 1973
  • Medium: acrylic on canvas
  • Dimensions: 213 x 182.9 cm
  • Credit Line: Gift of the Estate of Carmen Lamanna, Toronto, Ontario, 2000
  • Permanent Collection ID: 000.A.21

Bright Red #9

Ron Martin

For over four decades, London, Ontario-born artist Ron Martin has looked for ways to engage viewers in thinking about his art. Maintaining his viewers’ attention has been no small feat. “How long do you think people look at a painting for?” he noted in a 2012 interview. “The window is very short.” He also believes his challenge does not end there. He must give viewers a reason to keep engaging: “How do you increase the window, open it up further? … And once they go through, what happens then?”1

Spurred on by these questions, Martin has taken diverse approaches to his practice. Always interested in the materiality of paint, he has explored gestural abstraction, flowing huge amounts of paint onto a surface, or, conversely, scraping his canvases or applying paint thinly to record subtle mark-making. He has also created works whose highly patterned and vibrantly coloured surfaces change with the viewer’s shifting positions.

A graduate of H.B. Beal’s commercial and fine arts program in 1964, Martin won early acclaim at the infamous 26th annual Western Ontario Exhibition, in which artists joined together to protest the exclusion of John Boyle’s controversial painting Seated Nude. Martin went on to become a London representative for Canadian Artists’ Representation (later CARFAC), and would represent Canada in the 1978 Venice Biennale. In 2012, Martin was honoured with the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts.

1. Interview with Ron Martin by Christopher Cutts. Canada Council for the Arts, February 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UKyQABGE4gInterivew