Presented by Signature Partner
Jun 8, 2022

Untitled (Personal Painting)

We highlight a painting in the AGO's Contemporary Collection by Ron Terada.

acrylic on gesso - text on painting

Ron Terada. Untitled (Personal Painting), 1995. acrylic and gesso on canvas, Overall: 122.2 x 122.2 x 3 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Purchased with the assistance of the Louis Comtois Trust, 1999. © Ron Terada. 2000/62

For this RBC Art Pick, we have selected a painting, Untitled (Personal Painting) (1995), by Vancouver-based Canadian artist Ron Terada. 

Spanning more than two decades, Terada’s artistic practice includes painting, photography, video, music, text and publication-based works. Exploring language as the main subject for much of his art, he often uses text from a variety of sources and meticulously stencils it onto monochromatic painted canvases. 

For Untitled (Personal Painting), Terada appropriated text from a personal ad found in a print newspaper, which narrates a missed encounter between two people. This painting focuses on the deep desire for human connection and happenstance. In contrast with the neutrality of the text’s presentation, which is standardized and rigid, the underlying message is vulnerable and earnest.  

At first glance, the surface in Untitled (Personal Painting) appear commercially produced. However, in contrast to the “industrial” surfaces of minimalist paintings of the 1960s, Terada’s approach is intimate and painstakingly personal. To create the background of his canvases, he laboriously cross-brush paints his canvas, for which he may apply up to 80 coats of paint. From there he adds the “figure” as the final step—one “coat” of text. 

A graduate of the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, Terada has been the subject of numerous group and solo exhibitions across Canada and internationally. In 2018, the AGO presented Jack and the Jack Paintings: Jack Goldstein and Ron Terada, which brought together 14 of the artist’s large-scale text-based paintings from the Jack series. The artworks recount episodes from Chapter 11 of Jack Goldstein’s memoir, entitled “New York Dealers and Collectors,” and were presented beside Goldstein’s sublime photorealistic image of a lightning storm. 

Read Foyer

Subscribe to our newsletter for art and culture stories delivered to your inbox.