Artwork by Ronald Langley Bloore,  XXXVI (Byzantine Lights Series)

Ron Bloore
XXXVI (Byzantine Lights Series)

oil on masonite
signed, titled and dated “Dec 15-Feb 8, 1975-76” on the reverse
24 x 28 ins ( 61 x 71.1 cms )

Auction Estimate: $12,000.00$8,000.00 - $12,000.00

Price Realized $8,050.00
Sale date: November 22nd 2016

Private Collection, Toronto
Theodore Allen Heinrich, “Ronald Bloore: New Byzantine Lights and other Paintings,” “artscanada”, March/April, 1977, pages 11-19
Theodore Allen Heinrich, “Ronald Bloore: New Directions,” “artscanada”, May/June, 1979, pages 53-56

A professor of art history and archeology, and a member of the Regina Five, Bloore made important contributions to post war Canadian art. Instrumental in bringing about the Emma Lake workshops in northern Saskatchewan, the artist maintained a rigorous practice throughout his career that focused on constructed abstract work with limited colour palettes, favouring shades of white and geometric forms.

Having studied archeology throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies, the influence of archeological excavation and the study of various civilizations worked its way into the artists highly theoretical practice. Bloore also travelled extensively, absorbing the visual culture and incorporating theories of symbolism into his final works. From 1973-74, the artist travelled to Greece, Turkey, Iran and Spain, countries steeped in rich complex cultural and political histories which influenced the visual culture of the respective arts and architecture of each locale.

“The Byzantine Lights Series” is comprised of over seventy completed works in the artist’s preferred white colour palette, using forms that reference symbolic shapes deeply embedded within art theory and history. Built up oil paint creates relief highlighting the artist’s exploration of texture, the subtle variation of tone and the manipulation of light. The arch and floral form showcased in “XXXVI” gives a nod to the architectural elements popular in Byzantine architecture found throughout Europe and the former Ottoman empire. The reduction of form and the commitment to a singular colour creates a stark juxtaposition between the complex theories of art and symbolism, historical contexts and existential questions unpacked in such a pure final composition.

The “Byzantine Lights Series” was exhibited throughout 1975 and 1976 at the MacDonald Gallery, Toronto and the Thomas Gallery, Winnipeg. Bloore’s work is housed in the collections of major public art institutions, universities and embassies across Canada and internationally.

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Ronald Langley Bloore
(1925 - 2009) Regina Five, Order of Canada

Born in Brampton, Ontario, Ronald Bloore is known for his monochromatic paintings and his association with the Regina Five. He attended the University of Toronto and the Institute of Fine Arts in New York City where he studied both art history and archaeology. Bloore then went on to earn a Master of Arts from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After studying at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, he began teaching archeology courses there, and later at Washington University as well as the University of Toronto. Bloore’s background in and appreciation of cultural history was a fundamental influence throughout his entire artistic career. Bloore opposed modernist traditions valuing Western art above and was personally interested in global art and incorporated this into his oeuvre.

Bloore worked alongside his fellow members of Regina Five but differed in approach - preferring to complete works in a series and executed his paintings with deliberate brush strokes. He often worked using only one or two colors, which were sometimes built up into impasto formations. Bloore’s early paintings were mostly white and all-over abstractions. However, these abstract patterns morphed into circles, solar crosses, and wheels that could be read as images with symbolic meaning later in his career. Bloore used, at times, up to twenty-six varieties of white in his paintings. Created by adding shadows and values of creams and grays Bloore would add textures through impasto to further create highlights and shadows.

Returning back to Canada after spending a year traveling in Greece, Turkey, and Egypt, Bloore became interested in painting all-white images in a raised relief. As illustrated in “Painting No. 1” (1964), Bloore was preoccupied with forming white symmetrical patterns comprised of white squares and rectangles, possibly mimicking Egyptian relief hieroglyphs and Roman decorative sarcophagus fronts. If not inspired by hieroglyphs or sarcophagi, Bloore’s work could have gained inspiration from American artist Alfred Jensen who painted colorful calligraphic paintings. Regardless, these white patterned paintings allowed Bloore to reflect on his experiences at Karnak, Luxor, and the Hagia Sophia. He was interested in the sacredness of the art which unites humankind through time and conveyed this through his abstract calligraphy and inclusion of symbols in his paintings.

Literature Source:
Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada. Vancouver, Douglas and McIntyre, 2008

We extend our thanks to Danie Klein, York University graduate student in art history, for writing and contributing this artist biography.