Our latest Artist You Need To Know is someone whose work you can see in the flesh, soon, if you take a trip to 13th Street Gallery: an exhibition of David Bolduc’s works (part of a two person show, titled Biscay Bay and Beyond), is on display until early December, 2020. But here’s a teaser, if you will, of Bolduc’s practice, which spanned five decades. Born in 1945 and passing in 2010, he acts as an interesting – and unique – marker for Canadian painting, within the contesting narratives of post WWII to early 21st century ‘postmodernism’, spanning and challenging these and other ‘movements.’
His inclusion in 14 Canadians: a Critic’s Choice at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC in 1977, is arguably the apex of his international ‘career’: but his influence in the sphere of Canadian painting was, in many ways, just beginning at that time.
Described as an ‘exotic and eccentric modernist’ by Jeffrey Spalding, Bolduc’s “colourful abstractions extend the modernist language of Jack Bush, Robert Motherwell, and Jules Olitski.” His approach was about process, and an ongoing, organic one: Bolduc “often painted over old canvases, recycling past surfaces into new contexts. This seeming irreverence to his past paintings underscored the artist’s belief that painting is first and foremost a reflection of the present; where the meaning of the work is determined by the realities of the moment.” (both quotes from the Paul Kuhn Gallery , which Bolduc was associated with for nearly three decades).
Briefly attending the Ontario College of Art, he would later study at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal School: but his greatest ‘teacher’ is perhaps his ongoing travel, which shaped his aesthetic. Beginning in 1968 (thanks to a Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des arts du Canada grant), Bolduc visited Europe, Turkey and Nepal, among other places and even made his return trip with stops in Uzbekistan and Moscow. For the rest of his life, he was rarely ‘home’ for more than a year: visiting different places surely fed his practice. Boduc visited India (at least 15 times), Turkey, Mexico, North Africa, China, the Himalayas, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Paris, Spain, Portugal. In the 1990s, for several years, he was based in Paris and Morocco. (from Wikipedia)
Some “critics suggest that [Bolduc] and artists such as Daniel Solomon formed a bridge between the second and third generations of Toronto modernists or even form part of the third generation of Toronto abstract painters…such as Paul Sloggett.” This is why we mentioned the upcoming exhibition of Bolduc’s work, at 13th Street Gallery in St. Catharines, as Solomon and Sloggett have both shown there this past year. Bolduc’s paintings would offer a very specific ‘answer’ to those pieces, or a dialogue between all three, perhaps.
Bolduc’s works are in numerous collections across Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada, AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Gallery of Alberta, as well as the Mirvish Collection.
In conversation with Roald Nasgaard, several years before he died, Bolduc offered the following: “I’m interested in taking a nothing colour and giving it some bite to make it warmer. I’m not trying to be innovative. I’m not trying to make an object you haven’t seen before. Colour is all that I am working with.” But in looking at Bolduc’s vivid legacy, there’s also a sense of a personal history where “both colour and form are essential to sensation and meaning in Bolduc’s paintings.” (Paul Kuhn Gallery).