Le Devoir - March 30, 1974
Cahier des Arts et Lettres
by Pierre Vallieres
(translated from French to English)
The Espace 5 gallery, located just across from the Martal gallery, is presenting, in its first showing ever, 20 recent works by David Sorensen. These are screen-sized works which show an unexpected turn in the development of this artist, heretofore known as a sculptor. Yet this work compels the recognition of Sorensen as one of the most promising painters of his generation.
Any semblance of the figurative, even in the abstract, has been eliminated from Sorensen’s work, which essentially resorts to showing a surface spread with a mass of color that has been totally absorbed into the canvas, so much so that both canvas and color seem fused into one. It is a surface of diffused light which calls for silence and on which the artist has drawn a few horizontal segments in different colors to achieve the depth he intended the surface to convey.
Standing in front of each painting, the viewer is left with but one alternative, and that is to look and reflect, not on what was on the painter’s mind when he made it but rather, on what’s on his own mind. And so the painted surface tells him it is time to stop and let himself or herself be transported beyond the space of his or her own existence.
Because he has willfully stripped his work of all personal feeling or any reference that could connect it to his own experience or to a specific event, the artist does not force any emotion on the viewer. He simply reminds him, in a whisper, that the signs invented for various plastic media to create poetry often contradict their very purpose if the signs are too many. For Sorensen, at least, there must be a return to basics, to the unadorned, to pure meditation from which all trappings of the “world outside” are excluded, as in the world of the mystic. But paradoxically, he thus suggests his own vision of the world as well as his personal feelings about the world and his own place in it. It is as if he’s not content to simply soak the canvas with colors but wants to immerse himself and his own self into it. And thus color becomes the expression of a soul, of a state of mind where emotion is willfully sacrificed to the unadorned look the painter has on matter, on life, and on himself.
This is the look Sorensen wants us to rediscover, to reinvent all over. But there is the risk, with today’s fast paced life, that such a vision will condemn the artist to remain alone. Or could it be that what he is trying to achieve is to remind us that being alone is already the lot of today’s artist and there is no acceptable compromise with society that can change that? So, seems to say the artist, why then give the impression that the opposite is true, which is what happens when the signs are too many?
The Sorensen showing is undeniably a quality offering and should be seen by all who are seriously looking in a work of art, for a meaning that is more that mere entertainment. Espace 5, in it’s first exhibition, is showing a clear willingness to strive for quality while seeking out the most adventurous creations of the new generation of Quebec and Canadian artists. Such standards are seriously lacking in galleries today and the fact that one such as Espace 5 has decided to pursue such a goal is most welcomed.
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