David Sorensen - Studio 3.0



By Sylvain-Pierre Descoteaux
Service culture et patrimoine
Fondation J. Armand Bombardier

('Abstraction from Here to Now' catalogue 2001)

David Sorensen • Abstraction from Here to Now • Abstraction d’ici a maintenant • Abstraccion, aqui y ahora by John K Grande • ISBN 2-922769-02-X

No one can remain indifferent to David Sorensen’s mastery of painterly expression. His sensitivity and ability to reproduce the soul of both nature and of things allow him to distill the extraordinary from the ordinary. His work is thus an invigorating illustration of the human adventure he has witnessed during his many travels. From west to east, from north to south, from the Occident to the Orient, each of the regions Sorensen has visited has left its imprint – to the extent that they have transfigured both his inspiration and his work. The mysterious landscapes that result from these journeys are experiences and conversations that the artist maintains between the real and the perceived. The intimate celebrations and multiple visions of his interior voice – where the whole beauty of the message is concentrated – leave the traces necessary for a silent, furtive, fleeting description of a moment in time. David Sorensen presents these privileged moments to us simply, without reservation.

We present the exhibition Abstraction from Here to Now and its catalogue with the same intention. This exhibition underscores David Sorensen’s significant contribution to art and to teaching. His years as a professor at Bishop’s University, as well as his research and work, reflect his commitment.

This event also honours the artists of the Eastern Townships, the founding members of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1880 and present-day members, such as David Sorensen, who continue to pursue the development and promote the influence of this historic institution.

We would like to express our thanks to John K. Grande, our guest curator, for his superb involvement in the selection of the works being presented and in the production of this catalogue, which has led to a renewed exploration of abstract expressionism; Marian Reed, owner of Montreal’s Galerie D’Avignon, for her generosity and enthusiasm; to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, its president, Mr. Ron Bolt, as well as the president of the Quebec chapter, Mr. Joseph Richard Veilleux, for their support and cooperation; to corporate and private lenders who generously accepted to entrust us with their works of art; to the staff of the Fondation J. Armand Bombardier who, through their involvement and professionalism, permit the exploration of new relationships with art. Finally, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the public who, through their participation, make this rendezvous possible.


Text by John K. Grande

(Excerpt from 'Abstraction from Here to Now' catalogue 2001)

Turning sculpture from pure object of contemplation to active catalyst, a sculptural concern shared with American sculptor David Smith, Sorensen’s Displaced Arc can be situated firmly within the language of contemporary sculptural experimentation. Few Canadian sculptors have conceived and worked with space so dynamically. Though the language of contemporary sculpture is well understood by many renowned Canadian sculptors, the general tendencies lead either to the object-ness of the sculpture or to pure environmental disintegration. As a 1% commission, Displaced Arc goes beyond mere elaboration or decoration of a site, and instead places the sculpture’s dynamic relation to space firmly and solidly at the core of its conception. In the same way that a sculptor like David Smith will personalize a sculpture, bring to it an expressive potential that is alliterative, so Sorensen achieves an uncommon resonance of “that which is human” with his Displaced Arc. He does this with simple form, as he did with his Egg piece. The forms allude to a kind of dance with diverse materials, or a non-objective presentational approach to sculpture. This could be universal energy or it could be a kind of 3-dimensional drawing in space.

While the conception of Displaced Arc is monumental, and extends beyond the enclosed architecture of a site, as already stated, its concerns are intimate, human and above all, personal. The three component elements: a horizontal aluminum beam 17 metres long, an 11-metre extended arch whose central base touches the ground (made of sections of Douglas fir) and a yellow painted arc on the ceiling (the imaginative Miro-like appliqué aspect of the piece) infuse it with material contrasts: wood, metal, paint. Scaled to supersede the ceiling, floor and walls, the curve of Douglas fir and aluminum beam - each structural and illusory in scale and conception – of Displaced Arc enhances our perception of the spatial surroundings and establishes a creative dynamic in architectural space. Displaced Arc makes us equally aware of the limits of structure and scale, ironically by using structural fragments and form in such a scale. The wooden arch, the aluminum beam, and two-dimensional yellow painted arc are likewise fragments of an even larger form that we fill in with our imaginations.

Placed in situ as fragments, but entire sectional fragments, Displaced Arc invigorated the created environment with a human conception of habitat, encouraging people to pass under, over and around it. It does not contain or expel the spatial surroundings, but instead makes us all the more aware of the shell, the wall, the container of the building. The materials vary from wood, (sensual, tactile, human, natural), to metal (whose history parallels the progress of human development) and the painterly (our higher ambitions and creative potential). We are made aware of the contrast between pure pragmatism (structural design) and organic (inner) potential inherent to things, places, and environments. We sense the universality and ontological interconnectedness of the natural and man-made and, as Sorensen had commented, “the phenomena of (our) whereabouts.” The piece encourages a bringing together of spaces and activities, interaction, the passing under, over and around the sculpture by people using the space. Sorensen’s miniature Millennium Stele sculpture maquette (also on view in the Abstraction from Here to Now exhibition) plays with abstract form within its composition. The overall cast form causes us to read it as a complete entity. The angular compositional collage-like build-up of form(s) and line(s) reiterates an abstract symbology that is ultimately ahistorical and wholly contemporary. The form(s), line(s) and angle(s) within the completed sculpture are fabulous and allude to culture-specific forms. At the same time, Millennium Stele re-creates, and re-formulates a symbolism that is abstract and unique.

Displaced Arc draws parallels with David Sorensen’s use of fragments as allusions to the displacement of time, culture and context in his paintings. There are links between the painted layering of textures and image/ icons in his painting and the layering in space of similar abstract image/ iconic forms in Displaced Arc.

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