GUIDO MOLINARI R.C.A.
Jerrold Morris International Gallery Limited, Toronto
Private Collection, Montreal
Louise Letocha, Molinari, Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal, 1979, page 3.
Guido Molinari (1933-2004) continues to be one of Canada’s most recognisable abstract painters, with a well-defined sense of structure and colour. A subdued and characteristic example, Structure Asymetric Bleu expertly demonstrates how Molinari’s analytical and structural compositions follow from the inheritance of Malevitch, Mondrian, and Rothko to develop a distinctly home grown language of abstraction.
With a predilection for the use of pure colour, here Molinari cleverly creates a sense of subtle outward movement with a limited palette. Whereas many of his pieces are defined by their verticality and bright contrasting colours, this painting is quieter, heavier. Dark blues overlay green, and are bounded and interceded with dense black. Rather than strips of vertical colour, these are arranged as successive rectangles, mimicking the shape of the canvas. There is no bleeding between colours: the successive colours are laid against each other in hard edges. Nearly squared off and defined by darker hues, there is an almost architectural quality to the sharply-defined lines.
This formalist construction doesn’t preclude a clear sense of movement, and indeed here the chromatic tensions seem to energise the painting with a vital dynamism. There is a rhythm within the asymmetric arrangement, and the closely contrasting hues seem to recede and advance in a low throb. Rippling outward from the centre and softly lurching to the edge of the frame, the structured lines are bound within the canvas, but sustaining the vibrating energy of a ripple on a deep lake, or the pulse of a shadow passing over a window.
The painting retains a self-assured existentialism. As Louise Letocha writes, Molinari’s experiments in abstraction “freed the canvas of any possible reference to nature and secured for the painted surface its own reality.” Compelled by the subtle lateral movements and solid chromatic definition, Structure Asymetric Bleu amplifies the flatness of the canvas, until it radiates a contemplative energy - both expansive and absorptive.