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Gordon Rayner (1935-2010) is best known for his physically immediate approach to painting and lavish use of colour. Part of the Isaacs Gallery stable of artists which included Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland, Dennis Burton, Richard Gorman, John Meredith and Robert Markle, Rayner took a particular interest in American colour field painting, in particular de Kooning.
Self-taught, Rayner was heavily influenced by the teachings of Jack Bush and his fellow Isaac Gallery artists. He was unbound to artistic rules and would often experiment by incorporating found objects in his paintings.
“The Queen” is an excellent example of Rayner’s energy and fearless approach to colour, gesture and abstraction.
Gordon Rayner “The Queen”, Acrylic on Canvas, 1977, 72 x 60 in.
Gordon Rayner “Evidence 1 (Concerning a Drowning on Canoe Lake)”, Acrylic & Shirt on Canvas, 1989, 72 x 60 in.
“Evidence 1 (Concerning a Drowning on Canoe Lake)” is part of a 1989 series of paintings that Rayner completed focused on the drowning of Tom Thomson. Rayner also painted the landscape, and when not painting in Toronto, would work in a hunting camp in Magnetawan, Georgian Bay.
He states: “I re-examined the significance of the northern landscape, and realized that there was a subject there for me. It had been in front of me all this time and was yet another means of getting away from the self-consciously urban paintings that the Abstract Expressionists were doing.”
“Evidence 1” is a combination of all of Rayners’ influences: the gestural abstraction of the Abstract Expressionists, his free experimentation and unrestricted nature, and the profound influence that the northern landscape had on his understanding of Canadian art.
The owners of these paintings were personal friends with Gordon Rayner and Av Isaacs.