Art Gallery 175B
Curated by Lorraine Simms for 175 B
I work with relations such as flatness/depth; part/whole; difference/repetition; static/dynamic; permanent/provisional, so as to enact a systematic, yet open and suggestive, treatment of pictorial space. At the root of my approach is a concern to broaden the scope of what is normally considered to be a purely formalist school of painting. Using pattern not only for its aesthetic, rhythmic qualities I wish to hint at its connections to informatics, by which I mean not only its cultural potential as semiotic content but also its socio-political ramifications vis a vis certain readings of techno-science, post-humanism and embodiment (e.g. Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, Elizabeth Grosz, Rosi Braidotti). As well, I wish to implicate what I see as a promising overlap between the dynamics enabled by these constructs and those of various representations of 'natural' processes made by people working in such fields as self-organization, genetics and cognitive science. Intrigued by the limited means of the more minimalist branches of modernism, but discontent with their restricted ends, I want, in my work, to propose a multi-valent, non-determinist, deterritorialized space - a decentralized permutational network in which I picture contextually linked, multi-tasking, co-adaptive agents; adept at plugging-in to difference, constantly forming assemblages with the other, and ever open to the prospect of new becomings.
Barry Allikas lives and works in Montreal. His works have been exhibited in in Montreal, Toronto and Internationally for over thirty years. Allikas is the recipient a prestigious Pollock Krasner Award, as well as grants from the Conseil des arts et des letters du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts. His works can be found in numerous public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Minister of Cultural Affairs of Québec, the Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts and many private collections.
In 2008, I started making collages on paper with copies of abstract paintings found in art magazines. Adjoining partial images and individual motifs would highlight the dynamics of scale changes. While I created artwork in that same vein, I concentrated on Paul Cézanne, Agnès Martin and Mark Rothko’s different painting styles as well as Bridget Riley’s op art drawings. Somewhat inclined to depart from Riley’s hard-edge technique, and especially in order to add a certain sensibility to my work, I have focused on slow brush strokes, and particularly on how the colour of the paint in the brush thins out.
Lise Boisseau lives and works in Montreal as a visual artist and a teacher. She published Initiation au langage des arts visuels with Presses de l’Université Laval in 2008 and has been teaching visual arts at Cégep Marie-Victorin since 1994. Her undergraduate and graduate studies at UQAM were put on hold for a two-year academic hiatus studying calligraphy in the People’s Republic of China. Her artwork has been exhibited in Montreal, New York City, Toronto, Ottawa, and Mexico City, and is currently part of several private collections as well as the collections at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the National Bank, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Hydro-Québec, the work of art rental program at Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Loto-Québec, and at La Peau de l’Ours.
I see painting itself as a kind of membrane across which my experience and thoughts are carried and transmitted back to the world, as a compressed, encoded signal for interpretation, which ultimately reaches its completion through the experience of viewing.
In this group of paintings I feel as if I have been distantly, inaccurately, remembering fragments of someone else's last century modernity. Not the one offered on the first Google search or the one repackaged for easy twenty-first century consumption. Some of my previous work has been described as architectural. The forms deployed in this group of new paintings possess an architectonic sense of scale and structure, however, they are freed of the burden of giving us an architectural image. For the most part these paintings elude a pictorially definite resolution into an identifiable ‘thing’. I, like any viewer, look into an image with the initial aim of recognition. I find pleasure in the act of looking, so I suspect that I have attenuated the payoff that comes with identification to provide more room for seeing, for conjecture. As Ihor Holubizky wrote in his essay on my work “In the end a structure necessary for his painting appears, and makes it knowable, yet not to describe, but to propose.”
Working on both canvas and paper, Howard Lonn employs a multitude of processes including layering, scraping and dripping paint. His expressive brushwork and intense colour combinations give his work a playful sensibility and a sense of immediacy.
Howard Lonn graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1981 and has since been exhibiting his work regularly across Canada as well as in New York and Spain. His works can be found in the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the McMaster Museum of Art as well as in many private and corporate collections. Lonn also works in the animation industry.
This exhibition features works by three contemporary painters, Barry Allikas, Lise Boisseau and Howard Lonn. These artists freely quote the rich language of abstraction to renew strategies of style and approach. Fragments and details of architectural forms, technological components, weather phenomena, well-known paintings and even words become touchstones in new worlds of colour, mark and matter. Like a mirage these clues appear from within the painted surfaces and hover on the periphery of recognition. In these paintings vibrant colour relationships create illusions of space, materiality and physical presence.
Investigating perception through colour and form, Barry Allikas’ paintings resonate with geometric clarity. Stripes of pure colour wrestle, pushing and pulling against the flat surface of the pictorial field. His works belie their stylistic connection to hard-edge abstraction by the inclusion of language. Is this the “lie” referred to in these works? Or, must we search further to discover the truths these paintings propose?
Lise Boisseau’s paintings convey a mysterious, contemplative silence. Painted with rhythmic, controlled marks informed by her knowledge of Chinese calligraphy these works confound our sense of space. Geometric shapes that appear solid as a wall or footpath counterpoint ephemeral passages that evoke atmospheric conditions. Forms shift between recognition and possibility like optical illusions; details of well-known abstract paintings give way to patterns that in turn become architectural shapes and planes.
Howard Lonn’s paintings compress time, gathering references scattered throughout history into slippery narratives. Archaic and contemporary forms are held in precarious balance on their surfaces, while the temperament of his colours evoke lost memories. Paint is dragged, scumbled, washed, dripped and built up over the surface, magically coalescing for a moment to suggest the solidity of a three dimensional form, only to suddenly dissolve back into paint.