Canadian Fine Art

May 29June 03, 2021
Auction begins to close at 8:00 pm ET

Online Auction
LOT 39

Lot 39


Lot 39 Details

SURA, 2011

oil on board
8 ins x 10 ins; 20.3 cms x 25.4 cms

Estimate $12,000-$16,000

Realised: $12,000
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images

Private Collection, Ontario


It was a balmy summer evening on Queen Street West. Two collectors and their young son had just stepped out of the heat into the cool oasis of Katharine Mulherin’s gallery, where a new exhibition of Mike Bayne’s work was underway. The Art Gallery of Ontario had recently acquired four of Bayne’s paintings and the National Gallery of Canada would soon follow suit with two of their own. It was then, and remains now, a rare treat to see the artist’s work assembled in one room.

“Wait,” the couple’s son exclaimed, “where are all the paintings?!” His eyes, still sun-dazzled, hadn’t registered the tiny, rectangular pictures punctuating the walls. “Look closer,” his parents said, “they’re there.”

Bayne’s paintings have always compelled us to look closer, both at them and at our environments. Their attention to the world is as exquisite as we would wish ours to be, jolting us into a higher state of consciousness with their unlikely array of snowdrifts, strip malls, and station wagons. This small, wonderful painting, first exhibited in New York City in 2011, is a fine example of Bayne’s dazzling deadpan. Entitled Sura, it makes an enigma of a modest Toronto garage, celebrating the found beauty of a structure hiding in plain sight.

Of the painting, Bayne recalls: “This was just off the Queen West strip, somewhere close to Katharine (Mulherin)’s gallery. Those are sumac trees on the left. I think there’s a bathtub standing upright somewhere there too.” It is typical of Bayne to note the vegetation. He operates a farm in rural Kingston that requires constant care - the land, like each painting, demanding patient cultivation. He works in a studio overlooking his fields, daubing gravel, shingles and sky into existence with size-000 brushes, each new painting a minor miracle.

The National Gallery of Canada recently included Bayne’s work in an exhibition entitled Perspectives on Urban Spaces, where it demonstrated, in the writer Chris Hampton’s words, how a utility pole can become “an object of sculptural dignity,” and a brick wall a “worthy work of Minimalism.” Bayne describes this particular painting’s “low-end building materials - crumbling cinder block, asphalt, aluminum siding” as “lots of fun to paint,” and his enjoyment in perfecting each detail is palpable. He not only humanizes this lowly edifice, but stirs in us a more general resolution never again to overlook.

Sura is from a particularly beloved period in Bayne’s catalogue, when pale, luminous skies predominated. It’s easy to see how his wan light and virtuosic paint handling have earned him comparisons to the Delft master, Johannes Vermeer; certainly, few painters of any era attain such dizzying technical or spiritually secular heights. This jewel-like painting, like its laneway monolith, risks being missed; once seen, its perfection is indelible.


The work is in excellent condition with no visible issues to report.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and mandated government restrictions, Waddington’s regrets that we are unable to make lots from this auction available for pre-auction, in-person inspection. This condition report has been prepared by Waddington’s as a courtesy and has been provided for guidance only. The Lot is offered in the condition it is in at the time of sale. Any reference to condition in the report for the Lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the Lot form part of the condition report for the Lot provided by Waddington’s. Please note, certain images of the Lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the Lot and may represent colours and shades which are different to the Lot’s actual colour and shades. Waddington’s specialists are not professional conservators or restorers and the report set forth is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Waddington’s. Prospective buyers should bear in mind that this report will not disclose any imperfections which may only be revealed during the course of subsequent restoration. Buyers are reminded that Waddington’s warranties with respect to any property are limited as set forth in the Conditions of Sale and do not extend to condition.

LOT 39

About Condition Ratings

  • 5 Stars: Excellent - No discernable damage, flaws or imperfections
  • 4 Stars: Very Good - Minor flaws or imperfections visible only under close inspection using specialised instruments or black light
  • 3 Stars: Good - Minor flaws visible upon inspection under standard lighting
  • 2 Stars: Fair - Exhibits flaws or damage that may draw the eye under standard lighting
  • 1 Star: Poor - Flaws or damage immediately apparent under standard lighting (examples: missing components, rips, broken glass, damaged surfaces, etc.)

Note: Condition ratings and condition details are the subjective opinions of our specialists and should be used as a guide only. Waddington’s uses due care when preparing condition details, however, our staff are not professional restorers or conservators. Condition details and reports are not warranties and each lot is sold “as is” in accordance with the buyer’s terms and conditions of sale. In all cases the prospective purchaser is responsible for inspecting the property themselves prior to placing a bid.