UNTITLED ABSTRACT, 1961
oil on canvas
signed and dated ‘61; also signed and dated on the reverse
50 ins x 36 ins; 127 cms x 91.4 cms
Robert Hedrick belonged to the second generation of Toronto abstract artists who showed at the Isaacs Gallery in the 1960s. In a 1961 article on Hedrick for Canadian Art magazine, critic Robert Fulford described the artist’s practice as “discipline in action” because he typically tackled one artistic problem at a time through a number of works until he had solved it.
Untitled Abstract is one of several canvases from this period in which the artist was concerned with making forms move in space. Masses of earthy colours and black float across the surface forming patterns suggested by a primary wash, creating an overall effect characteristic of Abstract Expressionism. The painting process is visible in that the thinned-down paint has been allowed to drip into adjacent areas, (note the orange mass in the upper right corner) which gives the work a look of spontaneity and “chance.” Hedrick has nonetheless given careful consideration to the interplay of space, colour and rhythm so that the element of chance has been held in check by his adherence to a set of formal standards, as Fulford observed. Hedrick believed that his sculpture, first exhibited in 1961, shared an underlying naturalism with his painting of the period.
Canadian Fine Art Gallery, Toronto