Artworks and Artists
Guido Molinari
Born in Montreal, Quebec, 12 October 1933
Died in Montreal, Quebec, 21 February 2004

Guido Molinari

"My only purpose as an artist is to obliterate the distinction between figure and ground (which) represents a duality (and) symbolic of the anthropomorphic view of man that sees him at the centre of the universe and opposed to his environment. I hold that there is a unity between man and his surroundings" 1969

Guido Molinari was a key member of the modernist Plasticien movement that came into prominence in Montreal in the mid 1950s. Aligned with the Plasticiens, who embraced a rational, geometric approach to abstraction, Molinari sought to banish all notions of figuration and associative landscape space from his painting. He championed the "hard edge" in painting, eliminating the tonal blending of colour and the trace of the brushstroke so that what remained was an experience of pure colours playing off one another.

In the late 1950s, Molinari started to produce paintings consisting of a series of repeated vertical elements in which he sought to explore varied colour relationships. In the 1960s, he adopted the vertical stripe motif as an approach to composing colour in series, creating optical rhythms of intensely chromatic, highly differentiated colours. The artist was fascinated by the action of his compositions on the viewer, whose perception of a painting was affected by the rhythmic elements within it.

Molinari's "stripe" paintings were a pivotal discovery, and the continuous use of verticality and seriality became vehicles for an intense intellectual investigation of colour. In the 1970s, the frenetic opticality of the stripes gave way to other, slower, more subtle explorations of perception. The stripes became wider, larger colour areas. Eventually Molinari concentrated on colours that were close in tone and hue. His last years were spent working with a "single" colour. The idea of colour as light, or absence of light, became a strong spiritual, poetic dimension in the artist's later thinking about colour.