Lorene Bourgeois, new member at Loop, had an opening Tuesday October 27, of an exhibition of charcoal and conte on paper drawings (with a few oil on slate drawings) at Glendon Gallery, Glendon College. Because Glendon is a bilingual college, she delivered an artist’s talk in both French and in English.
In her talk she discussed her sources, her process and her aesthetic approach. She told the audience (a substantial crowd composed of art students, artists, OAC administrators and members of the general public) that she spent much time in London visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Children’s Museum. She was examining clothing and textile and its relation to the body. To build on Lorene’s comment, cloth is a second skin that accompanies us from birth to death: we are swaddled in it and we are shrouded in it. It connoted status, employment, recreation, age, even time of day.
As source material, Lorene also photographs sculpture in cemeteries where figures are draped in cloth. Her intent seems to be to create in her drawings a play between the solid mass of a stone sculpture and the ephemeral ghostly quality of a piece of clothing that is no longer animated by a body inside of it but by the memory of someone who once wore it.
The drawings are sensuous in their movement around and over the objects depicted. One senses the slow, careful, observant path that the charcoal and conte follow. The images are both precise and luscious, an expressive tension that compels the viewer to come closer. And when one does come closer, one becomes aware of the mind boggling technique of erasure and overdrawing.
In the question and answer part following Lorene’s formal discussion, one member of the audience asked an astute question about the length of time each piece took her to create and whether that was connected with her thoughts about the value of a worker’s time and the value of handmade objects. Indeed, this theme renders an underlying social commentary to the work along with the art historical references that infuse the exhibition.
Lorene Bourgeois’ s exhibition runs until December 11. Go see it!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
These paintings come together in a process that feels haphazard and chaotic. To begin, the waters must flow. Paint is diluted, viscosity is determined. A spill is launched. Textured gesso, or raw un-stretched canvas, waits, drinks in the manna, begs for more. This is the way continents form. Coloured mud coagulates. Sometimes it blends into the damp waiting loam, sometimes it runs side by side through twisted terrain creating raspberry ripples or cosmic gas clouds. I crouch down close to the canvas, sit back on my heels and watch the paint dry, boredom’s proverbial cliché. I am transfixed. (This is not boring to me). Sometimes I am compelled to tip the whole thing to the north, running rivulets in harmony, tilt it to the east and back south. Thus, a network of loops is produced. Cells. Catacombs. Cul-de-sacs. Sub-divisions in the desert. Embedded within each terrain is the map, the matrix. In order to keep us safe, in order to get us home, maps must tell us little white lies. Blood must flow for life to continue. Capillaries carry my dreams beyond tomorrow, toward the unknowable. Future generations sail down these salty rivers. Ancestors lurk within microscopic cells, waiting to tell their unfinished stories. I hover above the topography of drying paint, a satellite on reconnaissance. A network of patterns and systems emerge from the mist, mysterious and comfortable. I watch as layers peel away, sub-atomic, chthonic, geological, geo-political, social, biological. They tell me what I need to know. They show me how to stay safe and how to find my way home.
But who are these visitors? Faces materialize out of the tangle of patterns. Some of them are familiar; my grandmother and my grandfather. Others, I don’t know. Are they ghosts who’ve come to haunt me? The strangers who lurk in my own subconscious? Pilgrims or refugees?