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LOT 022

Guido Molinari
1933 - 2004

Quantificateur bleu
acrylic on canvas
on verso signed, dated 8/94 and inscribed "G.M.T-1994-06"
60 x 48 in 152.4 x 121.9 cm

Estimate: $70,000 - $90,000

Sold for: $145,250

Preview at: PacArt, Toronto

Wynick/Tuck Gallery, Toronto
Fondation Guido Molinari / Guido Molinari Foundation, Montreal

David Burnett, “Guido Molinari: Quantificateur,” in Guido Molinari: Quantificateur, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 1979, pages 5 and 9
John Bentley Mays, “Molinari: Superb Artist, Supreme Egotist,” The Globe and Mail, September 12, 1981

Wynick/Tuck Gallery, Toronto, Guido Molinari: New Paintings and Rosevi: A Portfolio of Thirteen Poems, October 14 – November 11, 1995

“The painting has to shut up.” – Guido Molinari, 1981
As the dazzling chromatic intensity and dynamism of Guido Molinari’s well-known Stripe Paintings of the 1960s often belies the refinement of their compositions, the chromatic subtleties of the Quantificateurs (Quantifiers) occasionally belie their deep emotional weight. Even in the 1960s, in the moment of Op Art, pattern painting and William Seitz’s 1965 Museum of Modern Art exhibition The Responsive Eye, Molinari was doing something different from his American peers and his fellow Plasticiens from Montreal. While Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, influenced by artists like Barnett Newman, reduced shapes to simple units and combinations, and made paintings about juxtapositions of colour, Newman’s influence on Molinari was about the solemnity of being an artist and the essential risks of making radical statements with art.
Some abstract paintings are views into imaginary spaces. They have foreground, mid-ground and background, and explicitly engage the relationship between them. This is a characteristic of much of the painting by the earlier generation of Montreal abstractionists, Les Automatistes. Molinari set himself against the depiction of space, in favour of geometry and pure colour, and this orientation became central to his art. The Quantificateurs are the most extensively considered body of work in his oeuvre. These geometric paintings were an important part of his painting from 1975 to 1997, done in blue, deep brown (almost black) and red.
Molinari’s paintings take time to perceive. For some viewers they are difficult, and for some they are facile. For some they are eloquent essays on colour’s capacity to reveal itself and to confound our understanding of it—and sometimes the paintings do both at the same time. More than the Stripe Paintings, the Quantificateurs must be seen to be understood. From the beginning of the 1960s, his paintings were always themselves: that is, acrylic paint on canvas, normally applied by a roller, with discrete colours in distinct areas defined by masking tape. They never allude, convey, describe, interrogate, map, problematize, subvert or take any other pedagogic action to legitimize their existence.
It is possible to see Quantificateur bleu in an instant, but it cannot be perceived in an instant. Similar to the river into which one steps, only to have it move and become something new, viewing Molinari’s Quantificateurs, and particularly the “human size” works like Quantificateur bleu, is a process of ceaseless renewal and discovery. At a glance, Quantificateur bleu is a vertical blue rectangle with a slight sheen picking up the texture of the canvas. It shows nothing. There is no sign of the artist’s touch—the work resembles vinyl film. There is nothing sensuous about paint applied with a roller. The title barely helps. It is one of many blue Quantificateurs, and this one is distinguished because it was painted in August of 1994—8/94—and has six elongated, irregularly shaped vertical trapezoids. There is no suggestion of its content, what it means, or the text embedded in its work. It is only one colour—surely anyone can paint with one colour? It is infuriatingly mute.
The Quantificateurs have a dynamic relationship between the quality and quantity of paint that engages the eye. By keeping the application of paint consistent, and working with the same family of blues, Molinari creates something new with every Quantificateur by adjusting the volume of colour, the choice of colour, the intensity of colour and the placement of colour. Each painting is a communiqué on the quality and quantity of one colour from Molinari to viewers. When the viewer synthesizes Molinari’s painted message, their eyes and mind will have contributed to their own creative experience. Quantificateur bleu speaks quietly and confidently, never saying more than it has to. It knows how to shut up.
We thank Gregory Humeniuk, art historian, writer and curator, for contributing the above essay.
The consignor sale proceeds of this lot will benefit the Fondation Guido Molinari / Guido Molinari Foundation.

Estimate: $70,000 - $90,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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