Montreal Gazette - 1974
by Virginia Nixon
David Sorensen did the abstract color stain paintings he’s showing at Espace 5 during a six-month sojourn in Mexico. And in their large expanses of hot dry colors, they seem to reflect their place of origin.
Sorensen was greatly affected by the light, the color, and the interpenetration of outside and inside he experienced in Mexico. “Morning sunlight at No. 4 Calle del Secreto, Mexico City”, he writes in the travelogue which serves as a press release.
“Up the ladder with Dog, cushions and book for an hour on the roof top, wake up slowly. View of nearby semi-tropical gardens, palms, rubber plants, flowering Bougainvilleas. Parrots squawking imitations of their keepers, chisels pinging in a steady chorus, a dozen carvers roughing in the arch stones of a new home next door (monolithic classical Indian with Spanish and Moorish touches). Washerwomen on the white rooftops and gardens sprouting like tropical headgear from the homes. The dog races back and forth tossing and tearing an old brassiere in her teeth. On the weekend, outdoor concerts for thousands of people, colored bundles of balloons streaming over crowds …
But Sorensen’s paintings are not atmospheric studies as such, but rather works which try to resolve spatial questions, notably that between surface and distance.
A typical painting might have a large hazily outlined rectangle, sometimes divided into two different colored sections (for instance dark gold and peach-orange on light olive green), and across this are narrow, more heavily painted lines. Sometimes there are only two, as in the large, vibrant red on blue ‘Carmen’, and sometimes several lines… Sorensen also has a group of paintings consisting of nothing but surface lines.
These lines often have a restrained op effect, especially those at eye level, and Sorensen points out that the big paintings are in fact human-sized, the right size for a reciprocal relationship. The few smaller works on the contrary which are more free form in shape, echo the coast horizons and are perceived as views at a distance.
The surface-distance interplay in the big paintings occurs by virtue of the fact that the central color areas appear to float in space and also to draw one into their own depths, while the horizontal lines draw one back to contemplation of the surface. My own favorite in the show was the Carmen with its strong yet unpushy red – like a rectangular sun – which seems to bring together the artist’s concerns with particular fluency. All in all, it’s a restrained exhibition with a good deal of strength.
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