Our next Artist You Need To Know is someone who “was criticized by some for being always unpredictable [but] he had many ideas and too much curiosity to rest in one place.” (from here) Gordon Rayner’s practice was varied and vigorous, as seen in his many series that shared similarities but also branched out in unique directions. There is an intensity to his work that is summed up by his wife, Kate Regan Rayner, revealing how his final painting is “waiting for him on his easel, is unfinished. He was working to the end, always pushing toward the next discovery.”


Rayner (1935 – 2010) was born and died in Toronto. He “has been called the “carpenter” of contemporary Canadian art, integrating found objects and materials into his striking works of art.” (from James Rottman Fine Art, which also has many of his fine works here). Rayner first found success with the acclaimed Isaacs Gallery, which included many significant Canadian artists (such as past featured artists like Graham Coughtry and Richard Gorman). His work has been alternately described as Neo Dada (specifically the assemblage works) but his vibrant and expressive use of paint straddles numerous painterly approaches, and defies simple classification. We’re sharing a few more images than usual, with this artist, to give a more complete sense of his aesthetic.


Rayner taught at a number of institutions, including NSCAD, Emily Carr College of Art (later ECIAD) and the Ontario College of Art (later OCAD University). His work is to be found in numerous collections across North America, both public and private. He’s also been the recipient of several Canada Council for the Arts grants. A full CV of the artist can be seen here 


Gordon Rayner passed away in Toronto in October, 2010. Rayner’s legacy is an example of how an artist can embrace diverse subjects and styles under a wide umbrella of painterly acumen. Much more of his artwork – especially his constructed paintings, which are some of his best known pieces – can be enjoyed at his site here.