David K. Ross

The Montreal artist David K. Ross explores the storage of art in private and institutional contexts. Using film photography he approaches his subjects “as a form of dynamic repose and image making as an accumulative process.”

 Ross holds a Bachelor of Arts, University of Waterloo, (1990) and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Toronto (2003). 

MBAC/NGC takes as its subject behind-the-scenes aspects of art’s storage and display. This large-scale work appears to be a highly textured, expressionistic monochrome painting. The surface appears both striated and pitted from the curious formation of numerous tiny bubbles marking the vertical composition’s surface. Viewed up close, it turns out to be a plasticized and flat surface. The title refers to the National Gallery’s red packing crate for shipping works of art. His photo of the crate was enlarged and then digitally printed on canvas by a commercial printer. The scale is just slightly smaller than the original crate.  Ross became interested in the system of colour-coding institutional crates that began in Canada in the 1960s: pink until 1989 for the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, followed by a deep purple; ochre yellow for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; turquoise for the Art Gallery of Ontario, deep blue for the Canadian Centre for Architecture; a navy blue and metallic finish for the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec; red for the National Gallery of Canada, etc. As Ross notes: “Developed to distinguish institutional holdings, the twenty-two designated colours assigned within this system allow gallery staff in every province to quickly identify an artwork’s home institution wherever it may be: on a loading dock, inside an art transport truck, or in a warehouse.” This system coincided with high-modernist painting modes, particularly the monochrome and colour-field painting.