WILLIAM RONALD, R.C.A.
Private Collection, Toronto
William Ronald (1926-1998) and Tom Hodgson were members of Painters Eleven, a Toronto-based group of abstract painters in the 1950s. Both were influenced by American Action Painters, particularly Willem de Kooning. Hodgson painted on a large scale, applying his characteristically vivid colours with bravura brushstrokes and palette knives. In the 1980s, Hodgson continued to paint in an abstract expressionist style. In Hodgson’s Gnosis, Ronald appears to be paying homage to his contemporary and former colleague. Using an action painter’s technique, Ronald has poured white paint onto a wine-coloured layer of paint, creating two central shapes, around which he brushed greens and blues, adding a few drips or touches of green. The result appears to be an aerial view of two islands, with channels running through and between them. This is possibly a reference to Hodgson’s childhood on Toronto Island as well as his Olympic paddling success. Hodgson’s “mystical knowledge” referred to in the title may be his innate understanding of paint handling and colour, as well as his knowledge of paddling in and around the islands.