Ron Loranger, visual artist
an accompanying text by Pierre Raphaël Pelletier
Like all artists, we are born
on a raging sea,
Alain Deneault, La Médiocratie
[note : indented citations and images are comments or reactions from the artist, Ron Loranger]
Ron has been beating his own path as a professional artist since 1981.
Free of all conventions, traditions, protocols or trendy recipes. Straightforwardly, this artist has a way of creating a visual language that responds to no concerns but its own as it unfurls with winks of watercolors in the unfathomable whiteness of space.
In any case, empathy for a work is the only way one can approach it and slip into its intimacy (see Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet).
“Well… writing isn’t my thing.”
 Here and throughout this article, the quotes from French sources are our translations.
All art criticism, no matter how enlightened, is always subsequent to the work, because interpretation is left exposed by what the work leaves unexpressed. (See the author’s La beauté exulte d’être si rebelle, published by Éditions David.)
“Greatness finds its signature.”
Blobettes, Ron Loranger
This goes back a while… Ron is looking for a word that could give meaning to his amoeba-like colours.
Blub, blubber, ball of fat, spot of mud… they all seem too ordinary. Then, his friend says: “Ron, it’s all so fucking serious, blob, blob, blob, blood… Oh, I got it! Call it Blobettes. It’s funny, yet it says exactly what your art is about.”
“Drawings aren’t very good for telling lies.”
Hence, the so-called Blobettes!
trances twixt two worlds
rainbows of alien silences
like inquisitive butterflies
transgendered tourniqueted molecules
soft matter trimmed with lace
Skin-tone blobettes in a sleepless sacramental night. Of this and much more beyond speaks the translucent poetry of the Blobettes. Happy as feisty freedom, the freedom of everlasting revolutions (see Jean Dubuffet).
Hello, here I come!
Coucou! Scene 1 in the world of Ronald Raymond Loranger. A tiny human being blindly arrives at 1:45 in the morning on February 18th, _____, at the Sensenbrenner Hospital during a raging snow storm.
- That year, Fusion des arts, the first French-Canadian artist-run exhibition centre, opens its doors in Montreal;
- Giorgo Morandi, the Italian painter, dies;
- Andy Warhol creates his film Empire;
- Joseph Beuys sculpts his Fat Chair;
- Marshall McLuhan writes Understanding Media:The Extensions of Man.”
Mark of life
Making one’s mark on the world, in modest surroundings where money is scarce, is an act of courage and constant staunchness.
Fortunately, the Loranger family belongs to that breed of Northern Ontario pioneers who never give up. Happiness is easygoing in the Loranger home. His is a pleasant childhood with his mother and two big brothers by his side. From a very early age, Ron is always drawing and painting. A few years later come his oil paintings of landscapes, pretty and well liked.
In Kapuskasing, during his second year in elementary school, the mother superior who saw him drawing as she walked by said kindly: “You’ll be an artist when you grow up.” Ron’s immediate reply: “I know,” certain of his destiny. As I said to begin with, that’s what is meant by “creating one’s life as a work of art” (La couronne d’herbes, Étienne Souriau).
“Art, I believe, is biological. Created in us by the workings of evolution.”
Having grown more than weary of well-crafted artworks, artist Ron Loranger rebels against what he calls easy art, the art of floral bouquets, etc., the art of all his paintings that sell well in galleries. His compass swings wildly and at last the artist sets out towards wider horizons.
“I don’t want to make pretty paintings.”
He leaves Kapuskasing at age 17. Arrives in the big city where he has more freedom to live his sexuality on his own terms. To survive, Ron does all sorts of bread and butter work, a variety of odd jobs that never pay much.
Nonetheless, despite all this daily turbulence, in the city of Toronto, he finds the means to study art and graphic design at the Ontario College of Art (today called the OCAD University).
At age 24, he leaves Toronto for London, where he resides for exactly one year and one day. A close friend takes him under his wing.
More odd jobs of all sorts, including shoe salesman for a bizarre urban fauna that includes bikers and skinheads. Because luck always seems to smile upon his chaotic life, his protector happens to be the head of general management for the Royal Opera House. Ron attends many concerts. He crosses paths with stars of the stage, powerful London personalities, Hollywood actors and historically significant figures as well, like Princess Diana and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It’s all good fun for him. In London, Ron doesn’t shy away from partaking in all forms of excess and transgressing conservative lifestyles. He pushes it to the limit, to the point where you fall into the abyss. He teeters mockingly on the border between life and death. All in all, let’s just say that our artist takes a voracious bite out of Adam’s apple.
“You’re made out of stars!”
During this time, Ron Loranger travels across Europe, including Austria, Spain and France, residing in Paris for a while. When he returns to London, Ron has a close brush with death and sees the Dark Angel’s abyssal glare. Allow me to relate his tragic experience one evening on the Thames, where 141 people are living it up on a tourist boat. With no warning and unexplainably, something sinks the boat. All the beautiful people are thrown into the icy waters of the Thames, shrouded in total darkness. Screams, cries of distress, general panic, desperate calls for help, people drowning left and right… Ron, a strong swimmer, can’t see a thing to get his bearings, so he starts swimming in the direction of the river’s swift current. Behind him, the cries of desperation go silent. Courageously, Ron keeps swimming, mostly on his back. He hears two persons who are struggling on their last breath to survive. Ron manages to go to their aid and he drags them along with him until they reach the substructure of a bridge. He sheds his clothes and continues to swim blindly. Finally, a rescue boat pulls the survivors from the water. More than forty people perish in that accident, including four of his friends. After Ron is pulled out of the water, he stands stark naked on the bridge, much to the displeasure of the officers. He’s scandalizing the good citizens of London, who aren’t accustomed to scenes of the sort. Ron tells me this story, still moved by this tragic accident that marked him for life.
“As a survivor, you’re screwed up.”
Living in Toronto
Ron owns a small house in the suburbs that is open to all friends (more or less a hostel, in keeping with the artist’s ways), in which he has a studio where he does work on a daily basis, surrounded by absolute silence. He provides for his necessities. Ron says to me: “I walk the dogs.” By day, he wanders in all corners of the city, looking for images to nourish his work. He collects all sorts of images: posters on poles, billboards, graffiti, drawings on sidewalks. A visual bazaar for his eye.
“Is that why Ron is part of ToRonTo?”
“I take other images from the Web, or from my everyday surroundings. I take everything I see. In my studio, sometimes I paint until dawn, depending on how I feel. The important thing for me is to create my art and evolve in my art. And to make a living with my art. I think it’s important for an artist to earn a living at it.”
“During the day, I walk all over the city.”
Our philosopher Alain Deneault has some thoughts that corroborate Ron Loranger’s comments. “Some artists deplore (…) the institutionalization of art. Their works [are] standardized to meet the expectations of ministries of culture, museums and academies.” (La Médiocratie)
So, standardization of works that sell for high prices on national and international art markets, with the blessing of venerable institutions of learning, funded by taxpayers.
Galerie du Nouvel Ontario
Ron Loranger is invited as an artist in residence for one week and produces within the gallery a large scale work, 30 feet by 3 ½ feet of thick Arches paper attached to the gallery’s wall. First, the paper is spread out on the floor and the artist saturates it with water. Drying time required. If need be, he wets the paper again. Sponges away any excess. At this point in the creation process, Ron literally injects drops of generously pigmented water, forming ovoid shapes. Time and again, the artist must wet the paper, playing with the tendencies which expand into the space of the work. In all this toil that gives rise to the work, the artist can spend hours elaborating a single blobette, once everything is dry, with a single continuous line that allows no opportunity for corrections, then adding words and drawings of all sorts of things, freely dispersed on the paper. Sometimes merging with the blobettes.
Curiously, almost magically, the space of the work attached to the wall becomes fused with the space of the gallery, creating a three-dimensional work in which blobettes circulate and spectators themselves become blobettes.
“While I was working in the gallery that evening, there were a bunch of cowboy hats passing by in the front window. It was a gathering of cowboys in Sudbury. Cowboys without a horse.”
It should be mentioned that artist Ron Loranger has in the past exhibited his large scale works in Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere. These days, his work is evolving rapidly, including more and more new forms, bursted blobettes, often traversed by laconic statements, lines, symbols, signs, here and there on the support he’s using, which can vary.
Ron would like to repeat the experience of the in-situ work he produced at the Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario in Western Canada, on the Pacific coast, in the United States, in Mexico, and possibly in Europe.
“I like to share with the public.”
Through his interaction, in the form of comments integrated into this article, Ron Loranger freely offers himself up to words, thus putting himself in writing, and we write the article together.
Pierre Raphaël Pelletier
This accompanying text is sponsored by Laurentian University.