“They are bits of idleness, therefore of extreme elegance; as though after writing—a highly erotic act—came sexual exhaustion: an item of clothing fallen in a corner of the page.” Roland Barthes
“Hold onto the silver cord” Agnes Martin would advise her students, encouraging them to avoid any form of distraction in order to stay focused on their work and give inspiration the best opportunity to arise.
Aesthetic connections form between one generation of artists and another, and what we call inspiration—a “divine” connection between thought and form—often develops in the wake of mentors’ work. This filiation seems to be very real between the works of established artist John Heward and those of Jean-François Lauda, both of whom place improvisation at the centre of their aesthetic research.
Working with abstraction, the two painters create expressive compositions in which gesture and geometry simultaneously free and contain the pictorial surface. Offering free and dynamic compositions, the works combine as much as they transcend different aesthetic codes.
Due to the sculptural aspect of Heward’s canvases and the play of scale of Lauda’s paintings, presenting these works in the Darling Foundry’s industrial spaces emphasizes their expressivity and opens a physical relation to them. In one of Lauda’s paintings, a large brush stroke with silvery glints traverses the surface from top to bottom, while in another, tiny daubs of colour rhythmically mark a corner. Hung from the ceiling and touching the floor, Heward’s strips of canvas convey a form of inertia—of “idleness” and “extreme elegance” to borrow Barthes’s words on Cy Twombly’s work.
The current exhibition aims to highlight the two artists’ close connection to geometry. On the one hand, Heward’s three swathes of canvas, knotted end to end, accentuate and vertically traverse the main hall; on the other hand, a horizontal line is formed by the juxtaposition of Lauda’s paintings of identical dimensions placed around the edge of the small gallery.
The Silver Cord, this intangible connection, thus finds resonance in the spatial arrangement of the two exhibitions.
translated by Oana Avasilichioaei
Born in Montreal in 1934, John Heward has more than 40 solo exhibitions under his belt, including ones at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (Atlanta, 2011), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Toronto, 2009), the Paul Kuhn Gallery (Calgary, 2009) and at the Centre Culturel Canadien (Paris, 2000). In 2008, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec did a major retrospective of his work. Among the major group exhibitions in which he participated were Traffic : Conceptual Art in Canada c. 1965 to 1980 (Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver, 2010-2012), Québec/New York (New York, 2001), Peinture, Peinture (Montreal, 1998), La Biennale de Montréal (1998), and Les Cent jours d'art contemporain de Montréal (1987). In 2012, he was the recipient of the prestigious Paul-Émile Borduas Award. The artist is represented by Galeries Bellemare Lambert in Montreal.
Jean-François Lauda lives and works in Montreal. He participated to the 30th Symposium d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul in 2012 and took part in the Painting Project at Galerie de l’UQAM in 2013. His work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Toronto, at VSVSVS, Galerie Erin Stump Projects, and Angell Gallery; in Montreal, at Battat Contemporary, Vie d’ange, Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran and Fondation Molinari; as well as in San Francisco, at Romer Young Gallery. His works are part of private and corporate collections such as Hydro-Québec, National Bank of Canada and TD Bank in Toronto.