Walking through a home, through a mall, or through a school instills in us a spectrum of different thoughts and feelings. The environments we build as our dwellings, places of work, commerce and learning are crafted (or not) to give us have a sense of that space and its purpose in our lives.
Painting upon the surfaces of everyday construction materials as well as directly upon the walls of the gallery itself, these two committed visual artists and art educators explore the materiality of paint through an abstraction that takes as its starting point the built environment. An interest in light within a space as contained and uncontained; as material and immaterial inform both artists’ work. Investigations into the temporal and spatial characteristics found within an architectural environment manifest in works that are at once complex and beautifully minimal.
Colette Laliberté has spent the last week in residence at the Latcham Gallery along with her assistant Michiel Duvekot literally in conversation with the walls within the gallery space. Her monumental work In Conversation (In Memory of Gemma) 2015, displays a vivid aliveness as it wraps itself around the gallery space, undulating up into the ceiling and back down into the floor. The ink and gouache cascading shapes exhibit planes that are in places atmospheric, leading us deep into a flow of motion that infer a passage through time. This reverie is then interrupted as certain segments abruptly turn super flat breaking the flow and forcing us back into relationship with the physicality of the paint and the gallery space. The work is engaged in conversation not only with architecture of the Gallery but also with the other works in the exhibition and the viewer.
Nicholas Wade has spent years contemplating the physicality of space. The cell, the hut, the study have all been subjects featured in earlier works. A monumental work erected in the backyard of Wade’s house in Lethbridge titled The Study, is a small studio/room with a simple desk and chair. In one of the walls there is a small hole that when all the other openings are closed up tight – the window, door and skylight - turns the room into a camera obscura. The light from outside inverts itself and reflects the outside within the darkness of the room in perfect detail. He likens the study to a place of self-reflection and self-realization. The Study will eventually turn into a community lantern by allowing the light from within to spill out of the window openings at night in the form of a projection.
With the suite of minimal, yet complex paintings Wade has brought to The Latcham Gallery he reveals his love of the container. In each work the flat acrylic paint works with, as well as against the ground which itself is often standing in for an implied surface, plane or colour. The composite building material he uses – MDF and Medite – as a support and as a box frame, relates directly to the built environment but also the dimensional mass that the composite nature of the material exhibits, mirrors the dimensional spaces he represents. What appears as a missing piece or a void in an unpainted segment in the composition of some works, is suddenly reversed, flipping figure and ground in an expert example of doing more with less. While circular voids in some works are clearly windows and openings onto the small cells or boxes, they at times appear to lift themselves off the surface and hover in a shimmering way – there and not there.
Colette Laliberté is an artist and Associate Professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto (OCADU) where she teaches drawing, painting, installation and site-specific art interventions. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Exhibitions include Galeria de Arte Universal, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba (2007); Triangle Artists' Workshop 2004, Brooklyn, New York (2004); Durham Art Gallery, Durham, Ontario (2003); Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec (2003); ARCO Madrid, Spain (1996) among others. She is the recipient of visual grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Art Council and, Toronto Arts Council. Her work can be found in private collection in Canada, France and, Spain as well as in the public collection of Le Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, le Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke and, the Canada Council for the Arts, Art Bank.
Nicholas Wade has taught at, Queen’s University, Kingston, David Thompson University Centre in Nelson, Brock University in St. Catharines, Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and The Nova Scotia College of Art in Halifax before moving to Lethbridge in 1994 where he taught from 1994 to 2011. In 2005 Wade installed his first permanent public art work entitled “the illumination” in the Millennium Library in the heart of Winnipeg. In that year he also was one of a number of Alberta Artists representing the province at Alberta Scene in Ottawa during Alberta’s Centennial Year. In 2014 his work was represented in the Art Gallery of Alberta’s 90th anniversary exhibition. Nicholas Wade has exhibited in most major Canadian Cities and has work in the Canada Council Art Bank , Nova Scotia Art Bank and in the collection of The Alberta Foundation for the Arts. He now splits his time between Lethbridge AB and The Bruce Peninsula on Georgian Bay.
Colette Laliberté and the Latcham Gallery would like to thank Michiel Duvekot for his invaluable assistance in installing In Conversation (in Memory of Gemma).
The artists wish to acknowledge their funders, The Ontario Arts Council, The Alberta Foundation for the Arts and The Canada Council for the Arts
All photos by Toni Hafkenscheid