Canadian, b. 1943
World Painting #17, 1970
acrylic, graphite on canvas
184 x 123 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Mrs. Mary Beamish
Ron Martin emerged as a professional artist in London, Ontario, in the 1960s, working alongside fellow artists like Greg Curnoe. Amidst London’s small, vibrant, and irreverent art scene, Martin produced paintings that beautifully and humorously questioned assumptions about the artist’s creative and productive role. For the World Paintings series Martin divided the canvas into one-inch squares, filling each square with three strokes of paint, forming either an “N” or a “Z” shape. He limited colour to the six basic constituents of the spectrum, along with black and brown. As a result, World Painting #17 is not so much a painting as an illustration of a predestined and arbitrary process. Martin’s decisive elimination of creative choice situates him among Canada’s early practitioners of conceptual painting.