The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal presents a major retrospective devoted to Claude Tousignant, a leading light of abstraction. Entitled Claude Tousignant, A Retrospective, the exhibition covers the artist’s career of fifty-plus years through ninety-one works, including drawings, paintings and sculptures, from his famous Monochrome orangé and his Transformateurs chromatiques, Gongs, Accélérateurs chromatiques, Diptyques circulaires, Polychromes and Monochromes series to his most recent pieces.
It is the largest exhibition devoted to a single artist ever presented at the Musée. Laid out chronologically, the show takes up six of the museum’s eight galleries as well as the Atrium.
Encompassing the range of modernist expression, Tousignant’s pictorial practice is unique in the history of Canadian art. Throughout his career, the artist has shown an unwavering commitment to abstract art. From the outset, he was closely identified with the development of a resolutely non-representational form of Canadian art. He moved quickly towards a hard-edge approach, (uniform, sharply defined areas of colour), which he used to explore the potential of the colour field and the pure geometric form. Distinguishing himself from most of his contemporaries, he began creating serial compositions in which the whole picture plane is dynamized by the intrinsic and expressive properties of colour. However, it was his famous Gongs, concentric rings of colour, that established his reputation in the late 1960s. He has also always simultaneously explored the realm of sculpture, producing a corpus that ranges from the modest wood constructions of the 1960s to the recent Modulateurs luso chromatiques series of monumental sculptures in painted aluminum, where the intense colour cloaking each piece seems to vibrate in the surrounding space. In these works, Tousignant continues to probe the relationship between colour and light.
Claude Tousignant has left his mark on the history of contemporary art; his target paintings and large-scale compositions have become an essential reference in Canadian abstract painting. But beyond words and theoretical notions, this exhibition invites visitors to experience for themselves the power of his art, in vibrant, living colour.