In his 90th year Ronald Ronaldson
shows no signs of slowing up. In recent months,
he has been know to complete up to six oils
in a month and continues to amaze us with
the rapid, expressive approach to his work,
resulting in paintings full of colour and
paint, applied with skill and dexterity.
1919 in Newcastle upon Tyne Ronald won a
scholarship to the Junior Technical School
where he was taught technical drawing (to
his dismay, no art) and later practiced in
watercolour. He eventually retired in Suffolk
as a Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer.
It was as a seaman in the Royal Navy in the
1940’s that he took up
the brush and purchased his first oil paints
in Cape Town, on a port of call and since
that time has been self taught and passionate
Ronaldson has been included in
publications and exhibitions from Northumbria
to East Anglia and is known for his paintings
executed up and down the country, particularly
along the East Coast. First with the Northern
Artists, later in East Anglia, he has exhibited
with Colin Moss at Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery
and with Donald McIntyre, Audrey Blake and
Richard Sorrell at the Phoenix Gallery. Roland
Suddaby, curator at Gainsborough’s
House (1970-72) invited Ronaldson to have
a solo exhibition but typically hating any
fuss Ronald refused. It is not surprising
that Suddaby recognised in Ronaldson the
same marked tradition of landscape painting
from the second half of the 20th Century
which also appears in his own work. We first
saw Ronald’s work in a group show with
the Suffolk Art Society at Gainsborough’s
House in 1988 and invited him to exhibit
in one of the early mixed exhibitions at
Chappel Galleries. It took us until 1993
to persuade him to have a solo show with
us, as the exhibition following Roderic Barrett
who was another admirer of Ronaldson.
has little time for those inadequate art
works hailed as the new avant garde, so called
modernists of recent years, seeing them as
distractions from the essential course of
art. His own methods in painting do not change.
Although rapid, the paintings are not completed
without consideration or reworking. If necessary,
he is unafraid to scrape back the paint to
the board. He will wipe off the lot, making
piles of oil paint, and reconstruct the composition.
This energy is imparted to the viewer through
landscape and still life, infusing them with
an intensity of light.
Ronald Ronaldson has
emerged as an enduring force after nearly
sixty years of painting. Some works fall
by the wayside, expected in such an outpouring,
but so many will go on working for those
of us who experience that spontaneous joy
in response to a genuine expression of art.
We have had great pleasure producing this
book which gives but a small indication of
the treat in store at the exhibition.