Regina Five painter Ronald Bloore influenced many at York

Renowned abstract painter Ronald Bloore, who taught art and humanities at York for more than 20 years, died in Toronto on Sept. 4. He was 84.

Right: Ronald Bloore in a recent photo by Linda Corbett

Bloore burst upon the Canadian art scene as one of the Regina Five, a group of painters whose exhibit of abstract paintings stirred public controversy as it toured across Canada in the early 1960s – and attracted the attention of New York art critic Clement Greenberg.

Five years later, he joined York’s fledgling Department of Visual Arts – and fellow Regina Five artist Doug Morton – and played a role in creating the Faculty of Fine Arts, the first of its kind in Canada. Educated in art and archeology, he taught studio classes and was cross-appointed to the Faculty of Arts to teach humanities courses.

When he wasn’t in the classroom, students and colleagues could often find him in his Stong House studio, where he produced the famous white-on-white (below), and later boldly coloured, abstract paintings that became his signature work.

“He was a very influential figure at York,” says Joyce Zemans, who chaired the Visual Arts Department from 1975 to 1981 and was later dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. “He was a brilliant artist and an inspirational teacher.”

Born in 1925, Bloore grew up in Brampton, Ont. He studied art and archeology at the University of Toronto, the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he earned a master of arts in 1953 and began teaching. After two years at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, he returned to Canada in 1957 to teach art and archeology at U of T, and in 1958, at Regina College of the University of Saskatchewan, where his duties included running the MacKenzie Art Gallery. As gallery director, he curated the 1961 exhibit Five Painters from Regina, which created a stir when it was shown at the National Gallery of Canada and then circulated to major galleries across the country over the next two years. In 1966, he left Regina to teach at York.

While he taught courses in art and humanities at York, Bloore continued to paint. Over the past five decades, his work was exhibited in dozens of solo and group shows and is widely represented in private and public collections across Canada, including the National Gallery and official residences in Ottawa. Around Canada’s centennial year, he produced murals for the Montreal-Pierre elliott Trudeau International Airport at Dorval and the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown. Bloore stepped back from teaching in 1985 to devote more time to painting and officially retired in 1990, becoming professor emeritus.

Right: June 1, 1983, ink drawing

Many of his works are untitled, to which he had this to say: “Why restrict your imagination?”

Bloore, remembers Zemans, “was always challenging and always very creative and engaged.”

In 1967, Bloore won Canadian Centennial and Golden Jubilee medals. He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1993 and received honorary degrees from the University of Regina, where his archives reside, and from York.

Every year, the Department of Visual Arts presents the Ronald Bloore Award in his honour to an undergraduate visual arts student with excellent academic standing.

Bloore is predeceased by his second wife, Toronto art dealer Dorothy Cameron, to whom he was married for 34 years. He is survived by his three children, Mark, Sula and Paul, from his first marriage. They plan to hold a celebration of their father’s life later this month or in October.

The family invites friends and associates to share their stories and photos at