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Victor Coleman

What About All Those Buildings And Signs: David Bolduc [1969]

artscanada, Fall 1969.
[ 867 words ]


We are the light
we imagine
we see
— Richard Grossinger, Solar Journal

If you talk to David Bolduc on a Friday afternoon, halfway through his most recent one-man show of painted canvases, you'll probably be bothered a lot by his dog, his wife will make you tea & split — 'She hates poets.' — & there will be an air of jubilance in an otherwise visually undecorated & seemingly bare studio. He had already sold five paintings (if that's not too crass for you art lovers) so it seemed there was little doubt about his quality, the artistry with which he applies colour to those surfaces, the vanishing painter.

'I think it's going to go underground for a number of years,' he told me, in a manner I thought, frivolously, much like that of the cartoonist, Al Capp (recently accused of bestiality at Harvard; an honorary degree from the radicals there I suspect) a manner which punctuates his conversation with short 'tumblers' of laughter (in the sense of 'glass' & what the key engages in the lock), as if to calm the listener, or reassure him that no one need take all this too seriously. Somehow the artist has been postulated as 'displaced' for a bit too long in an otherwise survival oriented or top-of-the-heap society; not always compelled by the often foolish acts of the THEM who were voted in; and by the same token baffled by the THEM who blow up Banks of Ameri(k)a. When I look at David Bolduc's paintings there is only colour, and potential colour, and very little understandable form.

'I really believe there's been a perceptual revolution — & most of us have missed it. The doors have been wide open for, maybe, three or four years now and most people over 25 haven't noticed.'

Born: Toronto 1945

'There's a different way of seeing. What I used to think was acid had opened the door ... maybe it hadn't ... maybe the acid culture has seeped down; maybe THEY're taking acid, it's probably the truth. I think there has been a visual revolution.'

And he laughed at my suggestion of 'the vision' behind his paintings; the ideal here not being to transfer reality through synthesis but to express, through colour and scale (or maybe valence), some sense of an individual's spot —check out the Teachings of Don Juan / A Yaqui Way of Knowledge for that sense of artistry through spirit to the surface of our lives.

'You get into ... like, I was doing ... I could do five watercolours in an evening without making any conscious decisions except, like the only conscious decision I would make is I would consciously change something after awhile, you know, try to make it a bit hard. And if you sort of put them all out on the floor over a two- or three-week period you see there, you know, changes, obvious changes ... yet things hadn't really changed at all. So I figured that must be a head thing, you know ... these things must be relating to me, &, if I keep trying to change it, keep popping up, you know, it's probably me.'

From his earlier hard-edged pieces in dancing chromatics that ached to be shaped canvases, through the wood, rope and glass sculptures to the watercolours and pastels Bolduc has at least proven through his work that he is not frightened of a delicate leap forward in an otherwise quite stagnant painting scene. The more direct serial statement of these latest acrylic manifestations suggests to me a kind of awed maturity. Nothing succeeds, just as I am incompetent to 'explain' Bolduc's brilliant rolled-on colours with these fake phrases.

'I guess it's like eliminating all the commas and periods in poetry so they run together and make any number of different meanings.'

Or the paint stick placed against the neatly rolled surface in a deeper or darker colour, framing again another smaller focus on the same sense of colour that informs the larger canvas.

'When the thing's all one colour ... they look big ... and if you put another colour on top of it ... it sort of brings it to size.'

Like prose.

'All the lines at the bottom ... think I put them in first ... it gives it a landscape thing ... where they look like telephone poles.'

Or doors.

'Which is unfortunate because everybody says: "It's like a sky."'

artscanada, Fall 1969

Text: © Victor Coleman. All rights reserved.

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