ART WE LOVE: Two Door Mats by Gerald Ferguson

Halifax-based conceptual artist Gerald Ferguson (1937-2009) always did everything he could to avoid making beautiful paintings—but ended by making them anyhow, almost against his will.  One of his ploys was to distance himself as much as possible from the actual act of painting.

To this end, he frequently used a frottage or “rubbing” technique by which he would lay objects on the studio floor, cover them with canvas, apply pigment (usually black enamel) to the now lumpy canvas with a roller, and then pull back the canvas to see what he had.  He employed mostly banal, everyday objects for this frottage process: coils of garden hose, for example, and lengths of snow fencing and, in this case, ordinary hardware-store door mats.

Here, in his Two Door Mats, he has frottaged two mats, one above the other, onto the creamy, raw canvas he favoured—with the result that what was once just a couple of doormats, is now a dense, richly explorable image with the strength and grandeur of much recent mainline abstract painting (Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, etc.)—to which it alludes and which it deliberately evokes

The Gerald Ferguson exhibition opens March 2 at the , 17 Morrow Avenue, and runs until March 30.  Two Door Mats is $21,500.  416-538-8220.