August 09, 2010
When one of Guido Molinari's hallmark abstract artworks arrived at Torys LLP in the late 1980s, it almost sparked a riot – or as close as you can get to one in a Bay Street law office.
"It’s one painting that the managing partner at the time did want to send back," says Philip Mohtadi.
From a distance, Red Quantifier 7 looks like a solid red rectangle. "It received a fair amount of scorn and criticism because it is so simple," says Philip. "And then there was the inevitable 'My child could do that.'"
But up close, you can see clear dividing lines as the texture and shade of the paint vary subtly across the canvas. The art committee held firm by overruling the managing partner. The work now occupies a prime spot in the firm's 33rd-floor reception area.
Torys' commitment to contemporary Canadian art has not always gone down well. "Contemporary art is not everyone's cup of tea," says Philip. "People have a particular idea about art and what appeals to them. Some things we have in the collection would have been intensely disliked or misunderstood at first, but it’s all part of the fun of understanding art and appreciating it. Like a lot of other things, you have to give it time."
Some of the most controversial purchases are now centerpieces of the firm's collection.
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