Seer
1960-61
68.75" x 68.75"
Painting, Oil on canvas
Signed and dated upper left
Ronald's public conversation is a form of theatre, in a way not unlike the spontaneity of his painting. "What will you do if I behave like this?" he seems to ask. For many of us, the answer has been to head for cover. To reverse the positions of culture and life and to be caught up in an exuberantly whirling Ronald scene is too much for many. Yet behind us, naggingly familiar, we hear the refrain of his work - languidly, then jostlingly abstract, not so much paintings born of fatigue but of a painter having fun, who has consolidated his position at a time when the world seems destined to forget it. William Ronald has been, curiously enough for one so noisy, an undervalued artist, but one whose contribution to the history of abstraction has lost none of its power to persuade. He remains a heroic pioneer of the Canadian abstract world.

—Joan Murray,
Director,
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery,

About the Artist
(1928 - 1998)
Founder of a group called Painters Eleven in Canada, William Ronald was born in Stratford and raised in Fergus and Brampton. He also did a series of portraits in Abstract Expressionist style of Prime Ministers including Pierre Trudeau. Upon graduation from the Ontario College of Art, where he was a hockey player, William Ronald went directly to New York to study for six months with Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann, having won a $1,000.00 scholarship from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association.

Living in the 'big city' was a heady experience for Ronald, whose residence was on 2nd Avenue in a noisy, Jewish neighborhood "Of street vendors, delicatessens and clothing stores". He took advantage of the cultural offerings and, leaving for Canada, he determined to return to New York.

In Ontario, he became a display artist for a home furnishings store, and involved 10 artists like himself in an abstract expressionist exhibition held February 1954. The group became known as Painters Eleven and included himself plus Alexandra Luke, Harold Town, Oscar Cahen, Kazuo Nakamura, Jack Bush, Hortense Gordon, Walter Yarwood, Ray Mead, Tom Hodgson and Jock Macdonald. Their work was described as "aggressive and challenging".


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