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Ron Gillespie (born 1944, New Westminster, BC) received his earliest training in art in 1962-64 at H.S.C. Prince of Wales College, Nairobi, East Africa. He graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1975 and has been active in Toronto’s visual arts scene for over 40 years. During the 1970s Giii went on to develop a performance career, often in association with CEAC, one of the city’s original artist run centers. During that time Giii toured extensively with CEAC, performing in numerous cities in the US and Europe. In 1982, he founded TRY Organization Theatre Co. for ex-mental patients, after his own experience with bi-polar disorder. At this time, Giii’s own art practice also changed and he began making the oil stick paintings and delicate drawings for which he is primarily known today. His work is held in public collections across Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Carleton University Art Gallery, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, ON.
In 2008, Giii's work was the subject of a touring survey exhibition, Hegel's Salt Man. This long overdue survey brought together a selection of work that ranges over 35 years. A key figure in the city's vibrant performance scene in the 1970s, Giii has gone on to develop a practice notable for the depth of its engagement with artmaking and its associated philosophical issues. The show featured some of the artist's early work, performance documentation and other ephemera, a selection from his voluminous writings and more recent drawings and oil stick paintings, and was accompanied by a 48-page catalogue, with essays by Rosemary Heather and Eli Langer. The exhibition was curated by Rosemary Heather and organized by the Doris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto, Scarborough. The catalogue is available at Paul Petro Contemporary Art.
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