Contents Introduction Full Texts Work CV

Quotations from or about Ron Bloore


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Bloore on Art

white paintings
abstraction
art's importance
untitledness
printmaking
photography
formal painting
art outside
sub-Saharan
African art

art as revelation
the sacred in art
censorship
provincialism
Canadian art
The Emma Lake
Artists' Workshops


Bloore on Methods

aging
paintings versus inkworks
extraneous seduction,
the white line series, and
art without frills


Bloore on Artists

the Group of Seven
Emily Carr
Charles Comfort
Doug Morton

Quotes about Bloore

Kenneth Saltmarche
on daily contact

Barry Lord
Naomi Jackson Groves
Y. M. Whelan
Ted Heinrich
Richard Simmons
Ted Fraser
Joan Vastokas
Michael Ethan Brodsky
Ron Shuebrook
Ken Lochhead
Terry Heath
Clement Greenberg

Random Quotes on Art

Fernand Léger
Ted Fraser
Harrold Goddard
Oscar Wilde
Roger Scruton
Hank Roest
Jordan B. Peterson

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Bloore on Art

White paintings represent freedom for the viewer.

Abstract art takes; non-representational art gives.

To me, as a painter, what is important is the service to which the art is put.

They're all untitled. Why restrict your imagination?

I'm just a simple painter. I don't make prints.

Photos don't lie...but they don't tell the truth either.

I am not aware of any intention while painting with the exception of making a preconceived image function formally as a painting.

Ideally, the paintings would be outside and you wouldn't even notice them.
- White/Light, Barry Lord, artscanada, Feb. 1970, cf: Full Text

African art is not important just because it influenced Picasso. The point is that African art is better than Picasso.
- ibid

Art is a serious, not a casual activity. It cannot be approached simply by the recognition only of the spectator's past experience. Any truly creative work should be a revelation to the beholder, an extension of his experience in life, not a confirmation of that which he already knows.
- Speaking at the Mackenzie Art Gallery, printed in the Regina Leader Post, Serious Aspects of Art Discussed by Curator, Dec. 11, 1958

    I don't like to use the term "to create" in connection with art. Man has, ever since he emerged, attempted to make images. Images whereby he can begin to approach an identification with the cosmos. Sacred art, the sacred in art, is a relatively successful attempt to achieve the unattainable...
    I don't think the function of art is to be "art." We make it that. And teach it in our art history courses. The function of art has been to communicate ethical, religious values. And it can be done with a landscape or it can be done with a portrait...
    Go into the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul where space, rather than the object, is really the sacred thing, and you become identified with it - you're enveloped with the space and light...
    The sacred in art is, in a sense, really divorced from the religion or the faith or the socio-political structure. It's that little spark which tends to unite man to man over the centuries, over the millenia, and that I find the enriching thing...
- Speaking at the CBC-TV Symposium on the Sacred in Art, printed in artscanada, April/May 1971

Art expert Ronald Bloore, called by the Crown [in the Eli Langer Trial], was asked if it's ever appropriate for a society to control the subjects dealt with by artists. "Adolf Hitler tried that once," he replied.
-Hamilton Spectator 94/10/05 p A12

Painting has not progressed significantly within our borders. Not even those who have studied in Mexico, Europe or elsewhere have returned with works beyond our standard level of mediocrity...
    Prevalent regional policy, sanctimoniously maintained, of never looking beyond our borders, or too often city limits, must be abolished. Anything will appear good or adequate when seen in no context but its own.
- Letter to the Editor, Canadian Art Magazine, 1951 (age: 25)

Canadian art is not bicultural
Canadian art is not national
Canadian art is international

Canadian art has a tradition
Canadian art has a tradition of creative emulation

Canadian art responds to invention
Canadian art responds to invention by imitation

Canadian art has made internationalism a reality
Canadian art has not created internationally
Canadian art has not created nationally
Canadian art has not created

Canadian art remains Canadian art

- ("I wrote that; they printed it; and nobody got it!"- R.L.B.) Ten Artists in Search of Canadian Art, Canadian Art, Jan. 1966, p 62

The Artists' Workshop at Emma Lake helped to evoke an intellectual atmosphere for an essentially indigenous creative movement in Regina in the late fifties; later workshops have poisoned the integrity of that atmosphere. The workshops at Emma Lake grew, achieved maturity, faltered and finally substituted for creative exploration an imported, critically secure painting theory. It is probable that recent workshops have inhibited rather than stimulated the rich potential in the visual arts on the prairies.
- Emma Lake Artists' Workshop: An Appreciation, Canadian Art, no. 93, Sept/Oct 1964, p 281

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Bloore on Methods

I'm a senior citizen now. And I've never painted any harder than now.
- Border Crossings Magazine, 1993, cf: Full Text

    [With major paintings,] the painting is totally preconceived and it's really a technical problem to finish it... It's a hell of a lot of work. It really is. I try to persuade people that painting is about 90% boredom. It's five percent fun at the beginning and then it's just a procedure of trying to complete the work. The last five percent is seeing how close you can get to the initial idea that you had before you say to hell with it, let's get on to the next one.
    [But with inkworks,] they are the total opposite of the paintings. The paintings are preconceived, the drawings [after '79] are all automatic. I do them as fast as possible. It probably takes about an hour and a half to complete one. It's a problem of trying to put something down very, very quickly, without preconception... you have to have [a] sense of experimentation. Then you hone it down... I remove all the tape and take a look at it for five seconds and decide yes or no. There's no correction. There's no change. There's nothing. If I don't like it I rip it up.
- ibid.

It seems to me that as eyes search too much for the eternal 'new', they wish to escape from reflection or, better, meditation. The white line series is a series begun and finished ( presumably finished ); there are infinite variations which could have been explored but I prefer to avoid exploitation. Forms were quite consciously limited to cruciform design. It has kept them Spartan and has permitted no extraneous seduction. You might even call it: art without frills.
- original publication unknown.

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Bloore on Artists

    [The Group of Seven's] limited accomplishment can only be understood in a context far larger than Canada. It is part of a North American experience tempered by a limited awareness of late nineteenth century painting from Impressionism to Art Nouveau with, perhaps, flashes of Fauvism and Scandinavian landscape painting as seen by Harris and MacDonald in Buffalo in 1913.
    We have been trapped by the intense nationalism of the Group, its early supporters, and wishful thinking in our examination of their works.
    Dennis Reid, [on the other hand] in his well-documented catalogue for the National Gallery's fiftieth anniversary Group exhibition... has followed the path of current American "international" theoretical art criticism and his catalogue does little to further our understanding of a provincial, romantic movement [which became a] powerful conservative force in English-speaking Canada.
- Group of Seven Then and Now, artscanada, August, 1970

Alone among major Canadian artists Emily Carr demonstrated the universal relevance of the native forms. Like her sculptor predecessors she responded directly to a certain physical environment. In isolation she used trees and skies and they in an ordered society had employed human, animal, fish and bird symbols to transmit history, legend and myth from generation to generation. A few other Canadian artists influenced by primitive art adapted Parisian formal interpretations of African sculpture. Carr's response was to find in Indian sculpture forms capable of evoking her spiritual immersion into a splendid and awe-inspiring landscape and to find herself in the moving immensity and continuity of the life-cycle. Others knew this art but could not use it to broaden their vision. According to Naomi Jackson Groves it was in contact with this area that A. Y. Jackson "reaffirmed his native realism." Carr accomplished her new vision, not by copying totem poles on canvas, but by learning something from them of powerful surfaces and spaces, something of the suppression of details in favour of essential shape and movement. In her forest paintings, that approach evolved until form, space and being coalesced into one.
- To gain a sense of presence - to find a sense of urgency" December 1971, pp 48-67

What I learned from Charles [Comfort] was ultimately years later: a total honesty; a total integrity and a total sense of responsibility... He's been greatly maligned in this country... I went to his last opening a few months ago at the Roberts Gallery and Louise was there. It was marvelous, really, really marvelous. She wasn't supposed to be there. Her doctor told her no to go. But there was Louise and Charles.
- [Comfort had been a teacher of Bloore's at U of T. and later, a fellow painter/gallery director] Interview with Joan Murray, January 10, 1978

"...one person's formal criticism that I did listen to (and the only guy that could do it) was Doug Morton. He had the most phenomenal eye! I can still recall one time... he came in and looked at the painting. This is when I used to still use colour (or other colours ). And he looked at it and said 'you've got these problems with it: A, B, C, D.' And he was absolutely in order. At a glance. Incredible formal eye that guy's got. Very subtle eye; very logical eye."
- ibid

    Morton's bold imagery is difficult to place within a Canadian visual art milieu because his roots seem to be in the apparently contradictory sources of pre-war French Purism and German Expressionism... His individual, recognizable manner of image-making retains something of Purism's simplified shapes and the potency of Expressionism's colours...
    The consistency of form and content reflect a sustained conviction of painterly purpose while his intuitively determined direction is given order by formal decisions which transcend the temporary...
    For me it was always a liberating experience after working on white panels all afternoon under harsh fluorescent lights to [go upstairs and] be refreshed by the dynamic Morton colours.
- Opening Address, Doug Morton Retrospective, 1994 cf: Full Text

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Quotes about R.L.B.

    In my house, above a telephone desk, hang two small while panel paintings by Ron Bloore. They were a gift of the artist to my wife a few years ago. So, while I have been engaged in conversations with the gas company, or the bill collector, my eyes have wandered over these tiny pictures, drawing both knowledge and nourishment from them.
    They have helped ease the tedium of the practical matters of daily communication, leavened the day to day business conducted in that place, and led me gradually into a wonderful other world of limitless space and endless time.
    Through such daily contact, I have come to know - really know - the art of R. L. Bloore. Impossible for me to verbalize, its reality and poetry is nonetheless actual. Its impact is of now and of then. Is of Aegean sunlight warming and defining some ancient wall; is of jetstream in a clear sky.
- Kenneth Saltmarche, Preface to Catalogue, Sixteen Years, Art Gall. of Windsor

Bloore talks of the need for an art of total environment... of the consummate integration of painting, sculpture and architecture with the surrounding landscape, particularly with the conditions of light... impossible for him as for us in this time and place.
- Barry Lord, White/Light: a visit with Ronald Bloore and his new paintings, artscanada, Feb 1970, pp 15-23

Ronald Bloore is one of the few Canadian painters working today with a substantial achievement behind him and a persistent and growing contemporary relevance.
- Barry Lord, Ron Bloore and Contemporary Art Criticism, Canadian Art, Oct 1966, pp 22-24, cf: Full Text

Bloore's designs are austerely simple, his colors the ultimate in restriction, but his textures are gloriously sensuous...
- Naomi Jackson Groves, Review: "Five Painters from Regina." March 1962

    While looking at hundreds of works that span decades of time, it became obvious to me that there are certain elements - the radiating circle, the hooked line, the semi-curve, and the space both within and without that curve - that appear again and again. Mr. Bloore has developed his own meaningful symbolic system whereby these specific elements represent complex systems of thought and emotion. His work is a codex for his life experience, the merging of rigorous logic and brilliant intuition.
    It is the marks themselves, and the combinations of marks, that form an iconography that transcends the personal. Each mark is made with an exacting certitude, with an authority that affirms its precise location within the context of the work as absolutely right. The mark, or symbol, acts as one facet of an oracle that, when combined with other marks, has transformative power. The work achieves an autonomous existence.
- Y. M. Whelan, Curator's Comments for the Works on Paper Exhibition of 2002

Ronald Bloore is a Romantic Euclidean, interested in constant speculation rather than final order. He is also a teacher and talker with positive, sharply defined, tersely expressed opinions. These often display a nice balance between humour and scorn. He also has a strongly spiritual side of Emersonian cast but tinged with nonrational mysticism. It is this very private sense that nourished and perhaps at bottom inspires his art.
- Ted Heinrich

Within groups of related works he fastens onto a strange form of symbolism which saves his paintings from being completely dehydrated emotionalism - a visual experience wrung dry of feeling. There is so little, and paradoxically so much of his essential personality in his work that it is sometimes quite awesome.
- Richard Simmons, Canadian Art, March/April 1962, pp 114-115

    Despite the austere geometric appearance of these works, the artist is a highly visual and lyrical painter. The elementary marks of the geometry retain an immediate expressiveness; the relaxed asymmetry and optimistic acceptance of accidental gestures reflect the artist's subjective presence. We also witness a calm humour in these pictures as stable patterns are fractured to create illogical and dynamic designs...
    The works construct alter-like bas-reliefs in paint... The open-ended geometry of the paintings is a web to ensnare our thoughts. In the autonomy of the works, Bloore exiles connoisseurship; he stresses literal painting, and quells false literary, psychic interpretations. He prompts us to relax speculation about the meaning... to admit response from the distant reaches of the psyche.
- Ted Fraser in his catalogue for Bloore: Sixteen Years, 1975. cf:Heath on Fraser

    Many contemporary painters have made pilgrimages to ancient archaeological architectural sites. None comes more immediately to mind than the Canadian Ronald Bloore, whose paintings are perhaps more profoundly affected by his experience of prehistoric and early art than any other twentieth century abstractionist. Egyptian and Greek reliefs, the architecture and the decorative arts of the Byzantine and of Islam, the prehistoric carving of the Inuit have been for him an inspiration not restricted to formal considerations but including recognition of the spiritual content of those early mythologies and sacred works that communicate across the centuries.
- Joan M. Vastokas in The roots of abstraction: an introduction; artscanada, May/June 1979.

Ronald Bloore calls himself a "simple painter." The description, exact yet paradoxical - a typical Bloore aperçu - is borne lightly and with conviction. As a painter, simplex, he evades the dubious nomination of artist, and comes firmly down to earth on the side of the more ancient tradition of man the maker: homo faber, whose works, being well made, lend durability and give continuity to the human world, and so stand in opposition to nature's necessary indifference and conspicuous waste. As a simple painter, Bloore invokes the essential, the time-honoured, the primary conditions of his craft, and reveals the sufficiency, the integrity of both the activity of painting and its object - the finished work.
- Michael Ethan Brodsky, 1985.

...the painting is, astonishingly, both picture and object, both image and process.
- Ron Shuebrook, Canadian Art Summer '92 p 66, Review: Not W/O Design in Art Gall. of Hamilton

    I was right about them back then. I thought they were incredible paintings and I figured I'd go in and realize they were still incredible paintings. But when I walked in they looked even better. Bloore gets better with time...
    He has this amazing self-discipline and commitment and has the knowledge to support it. The man's range of knowledge about art is just incredible; he not only knows his history, but he knows about surface nuances and subtleties. And that's why he's unique...
    He's also the most elegant contemporary artist I know. His abstracts are the most elegant pieces I've ever seen and that includes looking at art abroad... But the show is totally overwhelming. It's like all of Wagner at the same time; it's that kind of weight and intensity...
He's just brutally honest and insistent...
    He's a craftsman of the first order.
- Ken Lochhead, Border Crossings Magazine, 1993, cf: Full Text

    Bloore, for all his talk, is a theorist and an original one at that. It is not philosophic in the sense that Molinari's was. It is as physically based as his painting... But most of all, what about opticality? Bloore is about seeing - no matter whether you approach his painting, his judgements, or his stories.
- Terrance Heath, Letter to H. Roest, 2004

    Re: Heath's Not Without Design: The simple painter sticks to a policy, implemented in 1959, of not saying, writing, nor even reading anything about himself or his work (except to speak of his methods). There is a story that, Bloore, upon hearing that Terry Heath would write a long piece for the Not Without Design catalogue [which is here] said to him, "You know I won't read your essay." Heath replied, "That's fine. I won't look at your paintings," because he was writing specifically about Bloore's ideas on art, not his works - which, he acknowledged, speak for themselves: "If you won't talk about them, why should I?" -[H.R.]
    Excerpt:
    Bloore, I believe, sees one of the profound and lasting values of our civilization in its democracy... the one-to-one relationship of people, not ranked by social status, the respect for individual freedoms and opinions, and the potential to be judged on accomplishment. It is the society in which persons are not absorbed into a family or tribal relationship by necessity or ritual. It is also basic, I think, to Bloore's non elitist tenets about art. He has railed against art museums and other institutions by which "we justify art to ourselves on the basis of ideas derived from non-egalitarian societies."
- Terrance Heath, Not Without Design, Chapter 4, 1991, cf: Full Text

    The vitality of art in Regina does constitute an unusual phenomenon... five such fired up artists would amount to a lot in New York, let alone in a city of 125, 000...
    I think it can be said without offending any one that Bloore is the "leader" of the Regina Five; and certainly he was the most formed and distinctive artist of the group... This does not mean that I like what he does, It's a little sour and at the same time too elegant in its impasted whites...
    All the same, Bloore remains very much an individual and remaining that, he may yet force me to eat my words. And even if that does not happen, the School of Regina will remain in debt to him for his leadership, which brought in a certain influence that kept certain other, more noxious influences out.
    [Very sadly, Bloore was not in Regina in '62 to prevent Greenberg himself, the most noxious influence of all, from destroying the Regina scene by hooking it to the sinking ship of his own formalist theory. At one point Bloore did set out to make him "eat his words" by writing an essay refuting the misunderstandings and distortions of art history upon which this autodidact had based his theory but the college library there was inadequate to the task. - H.R.]
- Clement Greenberg, Painting and Sculpture in Prairie Canada Today, Canadian Art, March/April 1963, pp 90-120.

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Quotes on Art

Everything that I painted between 1902 and 1908 was destroyed along the way. It was the most difficult period of my life, but I guess that all painters have to go through it. It is the time when you're under the influence of something; then comes the transition period, and the creative part.
- Fernand Léger

The unity of a work of art must correspond with, and reveal, the essential order of nature. Here, the truth of art and life converge; each draws nourishment and strength from the other.
- Ted Fraser in his catalogue for Bloore: Sixteen Years, 1975. cf:Heath on Fraser

A work of art exists for what it says to us, not for what it said to the people of its "own" day, nor even necessarily for what it said, consciously, to its author.
- Harrold C. Goddard, The Meaning of Shakespeare, Volume One, p 72

It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.
Oscar Wilde

There is no greater error in the study of human things than to believe that the search for what is essential must lead us to what is hidden.
Roger Scruton

Works of art produce different associations and different emotions in people, and this leads the less thoughtful to see art as subjective, and the less perceptive to see it as political. But the thoughts and feelings provoked by art are just byproducts of its principle effect which is intuitive. Sadly, most talk of the spiritual in art is a misguided attempt to pass off emotional responses (or motivations) as separate from the ego. And most talk of art's other fundamental aspect, its social function, mistakenly assumes interpretation and knowledge as necessary to appreciation.
Hank Roest

Truly artistic production is full of inarticulate meaning. It's inarticulate because it's still in the developmental stage before articulate knowledge and so it grips people with the sense of significance but they can't necessarily say why. And the reason they can't say is because the "why" for that kind of meaning hasn't been explicated yet. The reason that art is meaningful to people is because art is meaningful. It's full of the next set of ideas. That's one way of looking about it. Or: it's full of eternal ideas that people haven't fully comprehended. And so you can't help but be gripped by it.
Jordan B. Peterson, interview about Glenn Gould, vimeo.com/49811326

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