Mille-feuilles: Quand le dessin a lieu

Group exhibition / Exposition en groupe
Curator/ commissaire : Lise Lamarche

24 novembre 2019 – 9 février 2020
Salle Alfred-Pellan, Maison des arts de Laval
Opening / Vernissage : 24 novembre, 14h
Visite commentée : 26 janvier, 14h

In Lise Lamarche’s brochure and her talk January 26, she guides us through her exhibition choices as layers of ideas about drawing. Rather than paraphrasing artists’ specific intentions to coil our meanings into hers, she invites the reader/viewer to learn more about us (and our work) via “un petit coup de pouce sur l’ordi,” I’m happy to have some drawings play part of her exhibition-thinking process, and to share my two-bits about them.

My artworks in the exhibition are part of an ongoing series I call “invisible drawings.” In these I try to address incomprehensible ideas circulating in my personal life, ideas which are not clearly identifiable and so invisible, unspoken concerns or feelings that I can’t quite articulate. The drawings may not be invisible, per se, but through them blind spots, temporary blindness, or physical comprehension of visual subtlety are foregrounded.






Sans titre (waves) 

Transparent polyester and steel rods, 213 x 305 x 30 cm
Photos (taken at different points in 2-minute lighting cycle): Guy L’Heureux

The subtitle alludes to the artwork’s pattern of curved lines of light and shadow, while suggesting unseen waves — radio, electrical, emotional — and honours my continued debt to Virginia Woolf’s unmasking of emotional currents surging beneath calm appearances. The drawing was constructed on site, based on experiments with mounting this transparent material perpendicularly to the wall. While my focus is normally shifting visuality via daylight, I had been continually surprised by this installation/drawing’s appearance in my studio at night, depending on the distance and intensity of light sources, raking or direct, and how these factors altered my perception of what the material was and even where it was situated. To get across this enigmatic quality I worked with the gallery’s lighting technician (the excellent Bruno Arsenault), until we arrived at this transition of light source from one side to the other of the artwork zone so slowly that it’s as if one’s eyes are adjusting to the dim conditions. It is difficult to discern what is going on, what the material is, why this feeling of something happening, a soul shift. Because, nothing is there, right?





Water Drawing No. 3

Water on tracing paper, 78 x 102 cm
Collection MNBAQ
from photo by Guy L’Heureux (contrast increased to show detail)

I draw circles with a wet brush, trying to build a pattern of circle on circle, continuing a network of wetness. But as the water evaporates, its brief reflection disappears, leaving no trace until each circle has dried and puckered the paper in rings that mark the paths of the brush. So the drawings are done in rushes against verging blindness, then impatient lulls while waiting for the reappearance of form. The drawings embrace the warping of paper that watercolourists must plan against, while revealing the struggle to control the medium. Water Drawing No 3 is one of the first I made of this ongoing series, and maybe the only one on tracing paper, which also absorbs water from the air, further complicating the pattern in a field of intention, thwarted. I made subsequent drawings on vellum, which is slightly more stable, but I’m now struck by the fragile balance in this one, its ever more complex pattern at the verge of obliterating mine.





Solstice d’hiver: Cygne et Grande Ourse, 24 heures, Corneille 7h-15h, Montréal

Pointe d’argent et acier sur mylar, 28.5 x 23.5 cm
Photo, detail: Richard-Max Tremblay (contrast increased to show subtle detail)

With this series of drawings I was trying to access a fleeting sense of time and place, and how we are connected to things too vast and distant to fully comprehend. Constellations have been navigational tools for humans since way back, and the idea that what we observe in the night sky is pretty similar to what our ancestors saw from the same point on Earth, millenia ago, boggles the mind. These drawings trace the path of a single constellation as it is positioned overhead during daylight hours, when we cannot see it; and over cities (here, Montreal) where even on a clear night the stars are hidden to us. Invisible idea-lines connect us to these invisible-to-us bodies of light. The silverpoint lines of the drawing are themselves nearly indetectable in low light, but will darken over many years. They trace lacy snowflakes of familiarity, patterns which can be found throughout the natural world. (In my photo above, of another drawing in this series, I’ve enhanced the contrast. In the gallery, the lighting is low, to accommodate artworks in museum collections, and the drawing pretty much appears as a blank rectangle.)