Primary Structures

August 3rd, 2021 – December 5th, 2021

An oil painting made on three panels of wooden board. Contains abstract shapes with orange, brown and blue tones, as well as black and white.

Ron Eccles, North by Northwest, 2019, oil on board

Bowmanville-based artist Ron Eccles’ abstract paintings draw inspiration from a deep sense of place. Rooted within this community, Eccles is inspired by his frequent drives along the shoreline of Lake Ontario from Bowmanville to Port Hope, enjoying the patterned farmland, weather changes, and seasonal colours. His reflections on time, geography, and light manifest in his geometric and structured abstract paintings.

With a prolific career spanning more than five decades, this exhibition focuses on a series of recent work called “White Line Compositions” and includes additional works created within the last fifteen years. Eccles is trained as a printmaker, which informs his painting process and allows him to create simplicity from complex processes, skillfully building layers within his work. Often working on more than one painting at a time, he begins by grounding the painting in blocks of colours, adding different tones to prevent flatness and create transparency and brilliance. A good example of this is Signal Warning (2020), where the red diptych seems to emit light from the wall. After colour, Eccles begins to build structure with white lines, allowing shapes and forms to bleed through, such as in works like River Ice (2020) or North Northwest (2019). While both titles of these works suggest landscapes, they are not representational works; instead, they conjure up feelings, moods, and recollections of a landscape. These connections to nature and memory are not clear to Eccles in the early stages of his process, and it is only after he lays down a primary structure of colour, line, and form that something cues his memory and a subject is realized. As Eccles says: “The painting process feeds you as much as you feed it, it tells you what to do.”

Born in Oshawa, Ron Eccles studied art at the Ontario College of Art (1967), the University of Guelph (B.A., 1970), and the University of Iowa (M.A., 1972). During this time he specialized in printmaking, studying under Frederick Hagan, Walter Bachinski, Gene Chu, and Mauricio Lasanky. In 1972, he moved to Peterborough where he taught drawing at Sir Sandford Fleming College, and would go on to teach printmaking at the Ontario College of Art and the University of Guelph. His work can be found in private, corporate and public collections including the Art Gallery of Peterborough, Blackwood Gallery, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (Iowa, USA), The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Canada Council Art Bank, and the Art Gallery of Guelph. His studio and his home are located in Bowmanville, where he lives with his wife and fellow artist, Jane Eccles.